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CHAPTER I. - Sir James Mackintosh, The Miscellaneous Works 
The Miscellaneous Works. Three Volumes, complete in One. (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1871).
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General state of affairs at home—Abroad.—Characters of the Ministry.—Sunderland.—Rochester.—Halifax.—Godolphin.—Jeffreys.—Feversham.—His conduct after the victory of Sedgemoor.—Kirke.—Judicial proceedings in the West.—Trials of Mrs. Lisle.—Behaviour of the King.—Trial of Mrs. Gaunt and others.—Case of Hampden.—Prideaux.—Lord Brandon.—Delamere.
Though a struggle with calamity strengthens and elevates the mind, the necessity of passive submission to long adversity is rather likely to weaken and subdue it: great misfortunes disturb the understanding perhaps as much as great success; and extraordinary vicissitudes often produce the opposite vices of rashness and fearfulness by inspiring a disposition to trust too much to fortune, and to yield to it too soon. Few men experienced more sudden changes of fortune than James II.; but it was unfortunate for his character that he never owed his prosperity, and not always his adversity, to himself. The affairs of his family seemed to be at the lowest ebb a few months before their triumphant restoration. Four years before the death of his brother, it appeared probable that he would be excluded from the succession to the crown; and his friends seemed to have no other means of averting that doom, than by proposing such limitations of the royal prerogative as would have reduced the government to a merely nominal monarchy. But the dissolution by which Charles had safely and successfully punished the independence of his last Parliament, the destruction of some of his most formidable opponents, and the general discouragement of their adherents, paved the way for his peaceable, and even popular, succession; the defeat of the revolts of Monmouth and Argyle appeared to have fixed his throne on immovable foundations; and he was then placed in circumstances more favourable than those of any of his predecessors to the extension of his power, or, if such had been his purpose, to the undisturbed exercise of his constitutional authority. The friends of liberty, dispirited by events which all, in a greater or less degree, brought discredit upon their cause, were confounded with unsuccessful conspirators and defeated rebels: they seemed to be at the mercy of a prince, who, with reason, considered them as the irreconcilable enemies of his designs. The zealous partisans of monarchy believed themselves on the eve of reaping the fruits of a contest of fifty years’ duration, under a monarch of mature experience, of tried personal courage, who possessed a knowledge of men, and a capacity as well as an inclination for business; whose constancy, intrepidity, and sternness were likely to establish their political principles; and from whose prudence, as well as gratitude and good faith, they were willing to hope that he would not disturb the security of their religion. The turbulence of the preceding times had more than usually disposed men of pacific temper to support an established government. The multitude, pleased with a new reign, generally disposed to admire vigour and to look with complacency on success, showed many symptoms of that propensity which is natural to them, or rather to mankind,—to carry their applauses to the side of fortune, and to imbibe the warmest passions of a victorious party. The strength of the Tories in a Parliament assembled in such a temper of the nation, was aided by a numerous reinforcement of members of low condition and subservient character, whom the forfeiture of the charters of towns enabled the Court to pour into the House of Commons.* In Scotland the prevalent party had ruled with such barbarity that the absolute power of the King seemed to be their only shield against the resentment of their countrymen. The Irish nation, devotedly attached to a sovereign of their own oppressed religion, offered inexhaustible means of forming a brave and enthusiastic army, ready to quell revolts in every part of his dominions. His revenue was ampler than that of any former King of England: a disciplined army of about twenty thousand men was, for the first time, established during peace in this island; and a formidable fleet was a more than ordinarily powerful weapon in the hands of a prince whose skill and valour in maritime war had endeared him to the seamen, and recommended him to the people.
The condition of foreign affairs was equally favourable to the King. Louis XIV. had, at that moment, reached the zenith of his greatness; his army was larger and better than any which had been known in Europe since the vigorous age of the Roman empire; his marine enabled him soon after to cope with the combined forces of the only two maritime powers: he had enlarged his dominions, strengthened his frontiers, and daily meditated new conquests: men of genius applauded his munificence, and even some men of virtue contributed to the glory of his reign. This potent monarch was bound to James by closer ties than those of treaty,—by kindred, by religion, by similar principles of government, by the importance of each to the success of the designs of the other; and he was ready to supply the pecuniary aid required by the English monarch, on condition that James should not subject himself to the control of his Parliament, but should acquiesce in the schemes of France against her neighbours. On the other hand, the feeble Government of Spain was no longer able to defend her unwieldy empire; while the German branch of the Austrian family had, by their intolerance, driven Hungary into revolt, and thus opened the way for the Ottoman armies twice to besiege Vienna. Venice, the last of the Italian states which retained a national character, took no longer any part in the contests of Europe, content with the feeble lustre which conquests from Turkey shed over the evening of her greatness. The kingdoms of the North were confined within their own subordinate system: Russia was not numbered among civilized nations: and the Germanic states were still divided between their fears from the ambition of France, and their attachment to her for having preserved them from the yoke of Austria. Though a powerful party in Holland was still attached to France, there remained, on the Continent, no security against the ambition of Louis,—no hope for the liberties of mankind but the power of that great republic, animated by the unconquerable soul of the Prince of Orange. All those nations, of both religions, who trembled at the progress of France, turned their eyes towards James, and courted his alliance, in hopes that he might still be detached from his connection with Louis, and that England might resume her ancient and noble station, as the guardian of the independence of nations. Could he have varied his policy, that bright career was still open to him: he, or rather a man of genius and magnanimity in his situation, might have rivalled the renown of Elizabeth, and anticipated the glories of Marlborough. He was courted or dreaded by all Europe. Who could, then, have presumed to foretell that this great monarch, in the short space of four years, would be compelled to relinquish his throne, and to fly from his country, without struggle and almost without disturbance, by the mere result of his own system of measures, which, unwise and unrighteous as it was, seemed in every instance to be crowned with success till the very moment of its overthrow.
The ability of his ministers might have been considered as among the happy parts of his fortune. It was a little before this time that the meetings of such ministers began to be generally known by the modern name of the “Cabinet Council.”* The Privy Council had been originally a selection of a similar nature; but when seats in that body began to be given or left to those who did not enjoy the King’s confidence, and it became too numerous for secrecy or despatch, a committee of its number, which is now called the “Cabinet Council,” was intrusted with the direction of confidential affairs; leaving to the body at large business of a judicial or formal nature,—to the greater part of its members an honourable distinction instead of an office of trust. The members of the Cabinet Council were then, as they still are, chosen from the Privy Council by the King, without any legal nomination, and generally consisted of the ministers of the head of the principal departments of public affairs. A short account of the character of the members of the Cabinet will illustrate the events of the reign of James II.
Robert Spencer, Earl of Sunderland, who soon acquired the chief ascendancy in this administration, entered on public life with all the external advantages of birth and fortune. His father had fallen in the royal army at the battle of Newbury, with those melancholy forebodings of danger from the victory of his own party which filled the breasts of the more generous royalists, and which, on the same occasion, saddened the dying moments of Lord Falkland. His mother was Lady Dorothy Sidney, celebrated by Waller under the name of Sacharissa. He was early employed in diplomatic missions, where he acquired the political knowledge, insinuating address, and polished manners, which are learnt in that school, together with the subtilty, dissimulation, flexibility of principle, indifference on questions of constitutional policy, and impatience of the restraints of popular government, which have been sometimes contracted by English ambassadors in the course of a long intercourse with the ministers of absolute princes. A faint and superficial preference of the general principles of civil liberty was blended in a manner not altogether unusual with his diplomatic vices. He seems to have secured the support of the Duchess of Portsmouth to the administration formed by the advice of Sir William Temple, and to have then also gained for himself the confidence of that incomparable person, who possessed all the honest arts of a negotiator.* He gave an early earnest of the inconstancy of an overrefined character by fluctuating between the exclusion of the Duke of York and the limitations of the royal prerogative. He was removed from his administration for his vote on the Exclusion Bill; but the love of office soon prevailed over his feeble spirit of independence, and he made his peace with the Court through the Duke of York, who had long been well disposed to him,† and of the Duchess of Portsmouth, who found no difficulty in reconciling to a polished as well as pliant courtier, an accomplished negotiator, and a minister more versed in foreign affairs than any of his colleagues.‡ Negligence and profusion bound him to office by stronger though coarser ties than those of ambition: he lived in an age when a delicate purity in pecuniary matters had not begun to have a general influence on statesmen, and when a sense of personal honour, growing out of long habits of co-operation and friendship, had not yet contributed to secure them against political inconstancy. He was one of the most distinguished of a species of men who perform a part more important than noble in great events; who, by powerful talents, captivating manners, and accommodating opinions,—by a quick discernment of critical moments in the rise and fall of parties,—by not deserting a cause till the instant before it is universally discovered to be desperate, and by a command of expedients and connections which render them valuable to every new possessor of power, find means to cling to office or to recover it, and who, though they are the natural offspring of quiet and refinement, often creep through stormy revolutions without being crushed. Like the best and most prudent of his class, he appears not to have betrayed the secrets of the friends whom he abandoned, and never to have complied with more evil than was necessary to keep his power. His temper was without rancour; and he must be acquitted of prompting, or even preferring the cruel acts which were perpetrated under his administration. Deep designs and premeditated treachery were irreconcilable both with his indolence and his impetuosity; and there is some reason to believe, that in the midst of total indifference about religious opinions, he retained to the end some degree of that preference for civil liberty which he might have derived from the example of his ancestors, and the sentiments of some of his early connections.
Lawrence Hyde, Earl of Rochester, the younger son of the Earl of Clarendon, was Lord Sunderland’s most formidable competitor for the chief direction of public affairs. He owed this importance rather to his position and connections than to his abilities, which, however, were by no means contemptible. He was the undisputed leader of the Tory party, to whose highest principles in Church and State he showed a constant, and probably a conscientious attachment. He had adhered to James in every variety of fortune, and was the uncle of the Princesses Mary and Anne, who seemed likely in succession to inherit the crown. He was a fluent speaker, and appears to have possessed some part of his father’s talents as a writer. He was deemed sincere and upright; and his private life was not stained by any vice, except violent paroxysms of anger, and an excessive indulgence in wine, then scarcely deemed a fault. “His infirmities,” says one of the most zealous adherents of his party, “were passion, in which he would swear like a cutter, and the indulging himself in wine. But his party was that of the Church of England, of whom he had the honour, for many years, to be accounted the head.”* The impetuosity of his temper concurred with his opinions on government in prompting him to rigorous measures. He disdained the forms and details of business; and it was his maxim to prefer only Tories, without regard to their qualifications for office. “Do you not think,” said he to Lord Keeper Guildford, “that I could understand any business in England in a month?” “Yes, my lord,” answered the Lord Keeper, “but I believe you would understand it better in two months.” Even his personal defects and unreasonable maxims were calculated to attach adherents to him as a chief; and he was well qualified to be the leader of a party ready to support all the pretensions of any king who spared the Protestant establishment.
Sir George Saville, created Marquis of Halifax by Charles II., claims the attention of the historian rather by his brilliant genius, by the singularity of his character, and by the great part which he acted in the events which preceded and followed, than by his political importance during the short period in which he held office under James. In his youth he appears to have combined the opinions of a republican† with the most refined talents of a polished courtier. The fragments of his writings which remain show such poignant and easy wit, such lively sense, so much insight into character, and so delicate an observation of manners, as could hardly have been surpassed by any of his contemporaries at Versailles. His political speculations being soon found incapable of being reduced to practice, melted away in the royal favour: the disappointment of visionary hopes led him to despair of great improvements, to despise the moderate services which an individual may render to the community, and to turn with disgust from public principles to the indulgence of his own vanity and ambition. The dread of his powers of ridicule contributed to force him into office,* and the attractions of his lively and somewhat libertine conversation were among the means by which he maintained his ground with Charles II.; of whom it was said by Dryden, that “whatever his favourites of state might be, yet those of his affection were men of wit.”† Though we have no remains of his speeches, we cannot doubt the eloquence of him who, on the Exclusion Bill, fought the battle of the Court against so great an orator as Shaftesbury.‡ Of these various means of advancement, he availed himself for a time with little scruple and with some success. But he never obtained an importance which bore any proportion to his great abilities;—a failure which, in the time of Charles II., may be in part ascribed to the remains of his opinions, but which, from its subsequent recurrence, must be still more imputed to the defects of his character. He had a stronger passion for praise than for power, and loved the display of talent more than the possession of authority. The unbridled exercise of wit exposed him to lasting animosities, and threw a shade of levity over his character. He was too acute in discovering difficulties,—too ingenious in devising objections. He had too keen a perception of human weakness and folly not to find many pretexts and temptations for changing his measures, and deserting his connections. The subtilty of his genius tempted him to projects too refined to be understood or supported by numerous bodies of men. His appetite for praise, when sated by the admiration of his friends, was too apt to seek a new and more stimulating gratification in the applauses of his opponents. His weaknesses and even his talents contributed to betray him into inconsistency; which, if not the worst quality of a statesman, is the most fatal to his permanent importance. For one short period, indeed, the circumstances of his situation suited the peculiarities of his genius. In the last years of Charles his refined policy had found full scope in the arts of balancing factions, of occasionally leaning to the vanquished, and always tempering the triumph of the victorious party, by which that monarch then consulted the repose of his declining years. Perhaps he satisfied himself with the reflection, that his compliance with all the evil which was then done was necessary to enable him to save his country from the arbitrary and bigoted faction which was eager to rule it. We know from the evidence of the excellent Tillotson,* that Lord Halifax “showed a compassionate concern for Lord Russell, and all the readiness to save him that could be wished,” and that Lord Russell desired Tillotson “to give thanks to Lord Halifax for his humanity and kindness:” and there is some reason to think that his intercession might have been successful, if the delicate honour of Lord Russell had not refused to second their exertions, by softening his language, on the lawfulness of resistance, a shade more than scrupulous sincerity would warrant.† He seems unintentionally to have contributed to the death of Sidney,‡ by having procured a sort of confession from Monmouth, in order to reconcile him to his father, and to balance the influence of the Duke of York, by Charles’ partiality for his son. The compliances and refinements of that period pursued him with, perhaps, too just a retribution during the remainder of his life. James was impatient to be rid of him who had checked his influence during the last years of his brother; and the friends of liberty could never place any lasting trust in the man who remained a member of the Government which put to death Russell and Sidney.
The part performed by Lord Godolphin at this time was not so considerable as to require a full account of his character. He was a gentleman of ancient family in Cornwall, distinguished by the accomplishments of some of its members, and by their sufferings in the royal cause during the civil war. He held offices at Court before he was employed in the service of the State, and he always retained the wary and conciliating manners, as well as the profuse dissipation of his original school. Though a royalist and a courtier he voted for the Exclusion Bill. At the accession of James, he was not considered as favourable to absolute dependence on France, nor to the system of governing without Parliaments. But though a member of the Cabinet, he was, during the whole of this reign, rather a public officer, who confined himself to his own department, than a minister who took a part in the direction of the State.§ The habit of continuing some officers in place under successive administrations, for the convenience of business, then extended to higher persons than it has usually comprehended in more recent times.
James had, soon after his accession, introduced into the Cabinet Sir George Jeffreys, Lord Chief Justice of England,* a person whose office did not usually lead to that station, and whose elevation to unusual honour and trust is characteristic of the Government which he served. His origin was obscure, his education scanty, his acquirements no more than what his vigorous understanding gathered in the course of business, his professional practice low, and chiefly obtained from the companions of his vulgar excesses, whom he captivated by that gross buffoonery which accompanied him to the most exalted stations. But his powers of mind were extraordinary; his elocution was flowing and spirited; and, after his highest preferment, in the few instances where he preserved temper and decency, the native vigour of his intellect shone forth in his judgments, and threw a transient dignity over the coarseness of his deportment. He first attracted notice by turbulence in the petty contests of the Corporation of London; and having found a way to Court through some of those who ministered to the pleasures of the King, as well as to the more ignominious of his political intrigues, he made his value known by contributing to destroy the charter of the capital of which he had been the chief law officer. His services as a counsel in the trial of Russell, and as a judge in that of Sidney, proved still more acceptable to his masters. On the former occasion, he caused a person who had collected evidence for the defence to be turned out of court, for making private suggestions,—probably important to the ends of justice,—to Lady Russell, while she was engaged in her affecting duty.† The same brutal insolence shown in the trial of Sidney, was, perhaps, thought the more worthy of reward, because it was foiled by the calm heroism of that great man. The union of a powerful understanding with boisterous violence and the basest subserviency singularly fitted him to be the tool of a tyrant. He wanted, indeed, the aid of hypocrisy, but he was free from its restraints. He had that reputation for boldness which many men preserve, as long as they are personally safe, by violence in their counsels and in their language. If he at last feared danger, he never feared shame, which much more frequently restrains the powerful. Perhaps the unbridled fury of his temper enabled him to threaten and intimidate with more effect than a man of equal wickedness, with a cooler character. His religion, which seems to have consisted in hatred to Nonconformists, did not hinder him from profaneness. His native fierceness was daily inflamed by debauchery; his excesses were too gross and outrageous for the decency of historical relation;* and his court was a continual scene of scurrilous invective, from which none were exempted but his superiors. A contemporary, of amiable disposition and Tory principles, who knew him well, sums up his character in few words,—“he was by nature cruel, and a slave of the Court.”†
It was after the defeat of Monmouth that James gave full scope to his policy, and began that system of measures which characterises his reign. Though Feversham was, in the common intercourse of life, a goodnatured man, his victory at Sedgemoor was immediately followed by some of those acts of military license which usually disgrace the suppression of a revolt, when there is no longer any dread of retaliation,—when the conqueror sees a rebel in every inhabitant, and considers destruction by the sword as only anticipating legal execution, and when he is generally well assured, if not positively instructed, that he can do nothing more acceptable to his superiors than to spread a deep impression of terror through a disaffected province. A thousand were slain in a pursuit of a small body of insurgents for a few miles. Feversham marched into Bridgewater on the morning after the battle (July 7th), with a considerable number tied together like slaves; of whom twenty-two were hanged by his orders on a sign-post by the road-side, and on gibbets which he caused to be erected for the occasion. One of them was a wounded officer, named Adlam, who was already in the agonies of death. Four were hanged in chains, with a deliberate imitation of the barbarities of regular law. One miserable wretch, to whom life had been promised on condition of his keeping pace for half a mile with a horse at full speed (to which he was fastened by a rope which went round his neck), was executed in spite of his performance of the feat. Feversham was proceeding thus towards disarmed enemies, to whom he had granted quarter, when Ken, the bishop of the diocese, a zealous royalist, had the courage to rush into the midst of this military execution, calling out, “My Lord, this is murder in law. These poor wretches, now the battle is over, must be tried before they can be put to death.”* The interposition of this excellent prelate, however, only suspended the cruelties of the conquerors. Feversham was called to court to receive the thanks and honours due to his services.
Kirke, whom he was directed to leave with detachments at Bridgewater and Taunton,† imitated, if he did not surpass, the lawless violence of his commander. When he entered the latter town, on the third day after the battle, he put to death at least nine of his prisoners, with so little sense of impropriety or dread of disapprobation, that they were entered by name as executed for high treason in the parish register of their interment.‡ Of the other excesses of Kirke we have no satisfactory account. The experience of like cases, however, renders the tradition not improbable, that these acts of lawless violence were accompanied by the insults and mockeries of military debauchery. The nature of the service in which the detachment was principally engaged, required more than common virtue in a commander to contain the passions of the soldiery. It was his principal duty to search for rebels. He was urged to the performance of this odious task by malicious or mercenary informers. The friendship, or compassion, or political zeal of the inhabitants, was active in favouring escapes, so that a constant and cruel struggle subsisted between the soldiers and the people abetting the fugitives.§ Kirke’s regiment, when in garrison at Tangier, had had the figure of a lamb painted on their colours as a badge of their warfare against the enemies of the Christian name. The people of Somersetshire, when they saw those who thus bore the symbols of meekness and benevolence engaged in the performance of such a task, vented the bitterness of their hearts against the soldiers, by giving them the ironical name of Kirke’s “lambs.” The unspeakable atrocity impuputed to him, of putting to death a person whose life he had promised to a young woman, as the price of compliance with his desires, it is due to the honour of human nature to disbelieve, until more satisfactory evidence be produced than that on which it has hitherto rested.* He followed the example of ministers and magistrates in selling pardons to the prisoners in his district; which, though as illegal as his executions, enabled many to escape from the barbarities which were to come. Base as this traffic was, it would naturally lead him to threaten more evil than he inflicted. It deserves to be remarked, that, five years after his command at Taunton, the inhabitants of that place gave an entertainment, at the public expense, to celebrate his success. This fact seems to countenance a suspicion that we ought to attribute more to the nature of the service in which he was engaged than to any pre-eminence in criminality, the peculiar odium which has fallen on his name, to the exclusion of other officers, whose excesses appear to have been greater, and are certainly more satisfactorily attested. But whatever opinion may be formed of the degree of Kirke’s guilt, it is certain that he was rather countenanced than discouraged by the Government. His illegal executions were early notorious in London.† The good Bishop Ken, who then corresponded with the King himself, on the sufferings of his diocese,‡ could not fail to remonstrate against those excesses, which he had so generously interposed to prevent; and if the accounts of the remonstrances of Lord Keeper Guildford, against the excesses of the West, have any foundation,§ they must have related exclusively to the enormities of the soldiery, for the Lord Keeper died at the very opening of Jeffreys’ circuit. Yet, with this know ledge, Lord Sunderland instructed Kirke “to secure such of his prisoners as had not been executed, in order to trial,”* at a time when there had been no legal proceedings, and when all the executions to which he adverts, without disapprobation, must have been contrary to law. Seven days after, Sunderland informed Kirke that his letter had been communicated to the King, “who was very well satisfied with the proceedings.”† In subsequent despatches,‡ he censures Kirke for setting some rebels at liberty (alluding, doubtless, to those who had purchased their lives); but he does not censure that officer for having put others to death. Were it not for these proofs that the King knew the acts of Kirke, and that his Government officially sanctioned them, no credit would be due to the declarations afterwards made by such a man, that his severities fell short of the orders which he had received.§ Nor is this the only circumstance which connects the Government with these enormities. On the 10th of August, Kirke was ordered to come to court to give information on the state of the West. His regiment was soon afterwards removed; and he does not appear to have been employed there during the remainder of that season.∥
Colonel Trelawney succeeded; but so little was Kirke’s conduct thought to be blamable, that on the 1st of September three persons were executed illegally at Taunton for rebellion, the nature and reason of their death openly avowed in the register of their interment.¶ In military executions, however atrocious, some allowance must be made for the passions of an exasperated soldiery, and for the habits of officers accustomed to summary and irregular acts, who have not been taught by experience that the ends of justice cannot be attained otherwise than by the observance of the rules of law.** The lawless violence of an army forms no precedent for the ordinary administration of public affairs; and the historian is bound to relate with diffidence events which are generally attended with confusion and obscurity, which are exaggerated by the just resentment of an oppressed party, and where we can seldom be guided by the authentic evidence of records. Neither the conduct of a Government which approves these excesses, however, nor that of judges who imitate or surpass them, allows of such extenuations or requires such caution in relating and characterising facts. The judicial proceedings which immediately followed these military atrocities may be related with more confidence, and must be treated with the utmost rigour of historical justice.
The commencement of proceedings on the Western Circuit, which comprehends the whole scene of Monmouth’s operations, was postponed till the other assizes were concluded, in order that four judges, who were joined with Jeffreys in the commission, might be at liberty to attend him.* An order was also issued to all officers in the West, “to furnish such parties of horse and foot, as might be required by the Lord Chief Justice on his circuit, for securing prisoners, and to perform that service in such manner as he should direct.”† After these unusual and alarming preparations, Jeffreys began his circuit at Winchester, on the 27th of August, by the trial of Mrs. Alicia Lisle, who was charged with having sheltered in her house, for one night, two fugitives from Monmouth’s routed army,—an office of humanity which then was and still is treated as high treason by the law of England. This lady, though unaided by counsel, so deaf that she could very imperfectly hear the evidence, and occasionally overpowerrd by those lethargic slumbers which are incident to advanced age, defended herself with a coolness which formed a striking contrast to the deportment of her judge.‡ The principal witness, a man who had been sent to her to implore shelter for one Hickes, and who guided him and Nelthrope to her house, betrayed a natural repugnance to disclose facts likely to affect a life which he had innocently contributed to endanger. Jeffreys, at the suggestion of the counsel for the crown, took upon himself the examination of this unwilling witness, and conducted it with a union of artifice, menace, and invective, which no well-regulated tribunal would suffer in the advocate of a prisoner, when examining the witness produced by the accuser. With solemn appeals to Heaven for his own pure intentions, he began in the language of candour and gentleness to adjure the witness to discover all that he knew. His nature, however, often threw off this disguise, and bioke out into the ribaldry and scurrility of his accustomed style. The Judge and three counsel poured in questions upon the poor rustic in rapid succession. Jeffreys said that he treasured up vengeance for such men, and added, “It is infinite mercy that for those falsehoods of thine, God does not immediately strike thee into hell.” Wearied, overawed, and overwhelmed by such an examination, the witness at length admitted some facts which afforded reason to suspect, rather than to believe, that the unfortunate lady knew the men whom she succoured to be fugitives from Monmouth’s army. She said in her defence, that she knew Mr. Hickes to be a Presbyterian minister, and thought he absconded because there were warrants out against him on that account. All the precautions for concealment which were urged as proofs of her intentional breach of law were reconcilable with this defence. Orders had been issued at the beginning of the revolt to seize all “disaffected and suspicious persons, especially all Nonconformist ministers;”* and Jeffreys himself unwittingly strengthened her case by declaring his conviction, that all Presbyterians had a hand in the rebellion. He did not go through the formality of repeating so probable a defence to the jury. They however hesitated: they asked the Chief Justice, whether it were as much treason to receive Hickes before as after conviction? He told them that it was, which was literally true; but he wilfully concealed from them that by the law, such as it was, the receiver of a traitor could not be brought to trial till the principal traitor had been convicted or outlawed;—a provision, indeed, so manifestly necessary to justice, that without the observance of it Hickes might be acquitted of treason after Mrs. Lisle had been executed for harbouring him as a traitor.† Four judges looked silently on this suppression of truth, which produced the same effect with positive falsehood, and allowed the limits of a barbarous law to be overpassed, in order to destroy an aged woman for an act of charity. The jury retired, and remained so long in deliberation, as to provoke the wrath of the Chief Justice. When they returned into court, they expressed their doubt, whether the prisoner knew that Hickes had been in Monmouth’s army: the Chief Justice assured them that the proof was complete. Three times they repeated their doubt: the Chief Justice as often reiterated his declaration with growing impatience and rage. At this critical moment of the last appeal of the jury to the Court, the defenceless female at the bar made an effort to speak. Jeffreys, taking advantage of formalities, instantly silenced her, and the jury were at length overawed into a verdict of “guilty.” He then broke out into a needless insult to the strongest affections of nature, saying to the jury, “Gentlemen, had I been among you, and if she had been my own mother, I should have found her guilty.” On the next morning, when he had to pronounce sentence of death, he could not even then abstain from invectives against Presbyterians, of whom he supposed Mrs. Lisle to be one; yet mixing artifice with his fury, he tried to lure her into discoveries, by ambiguous phrases, which might excite her hopes of life without pledging him to obtain pardon. He directed that she should be burnt alive in the afternoon of the same day; but the clergy of the cathedral of Winchester successfully interceded for an interval of three days. This interval gave time for an application to the King; and that application was made by persons, and with circumstances, which must have strongly called his attention to the case. Mrs. Lisle was the widow of Mr. Lisle, who was one of the judges of Charles the First; and this circumstance, which excited a prejudice against her, served in its consequences to show that she had powerful claims on the lenity of the King. Lady St. John and Lady Abergavenny wrote a letter to Lord Clarendon, then Privy Seal, which he read to the King, bearing testimony, “that she had been a favourer of the King’s friends in their greatest extremities during the late civil war,” and among others, of these ladies themselves; and on these grounds, as well as for her general loyalty, earnestly recommending her to pardon. Her son had served in the King’s army against Monmouth; she often had declared that she shed more tears than any woman in England on the day of the death of Charles the First; and after the attainder of Mr. Lisle, his estate was granted to her at the intercession of Lord Chancellor Clarendon, for her excellent conduct during the prevalence of her husband’s party. Lord Feversham, also, who had been promised a thousand pounds for her pardon, used his influence to obtain it. But the King declared that he would not reprieve her for one day. It is said, that he endeavoured to justify himself, by alleging a promise to Jeffreys that Mrs. Lisle should not be spared;—a fact which, if true, shows the conduct of James to have been as deliberate as it seems to be, and that the severities of the circuit arose from a previous concert between him and Jeffreys. On the following day the case was again brought before him by a petition from Mrs. Lisle, praying that her punishment might be changed into beheading, in consideration of her ancient and honourable descent. After a careful search for precedents, the mind of James was once more called to the fate of the prisoner by the signature of a warrant to authorise the infliction of the mitigated punishment. This venerable matron accordingly suffered death on the 2d of September, supported by that piety which had been the guide of her life. Her understanding was so undisturbed, that she clearly instanced the points in which she had been wronged. No resentment troubled the composure of her dying moments; and she carried her religious principles of allegiance and forgiveness so far, as to pray or the scaffold for the prosperity of a prince from whom she had experienced neither mercy, gratitude, nor justice. The trial of Mrs. Lisle is a sufficient specimen of the proceedings of this circuit. When such was the conduct of the judges in a single trial of a lady of distinction for such an offence, with a jury not regardless of justice, where there was full leisure for the consideration of every question of fact and law, and where every circumstance was made known to the Government and the public, it is easy to imagine what the demeanour of the same tribunal must have been in the trials of several hundred insurgents of humble condition, crowded into so short a time that the wisest and most upright judges could hardly have distinguished the innocent from the guilty.*
As the movements of Monmouth’s army had been confined to Dorset and Somerset, the acts of high treason were almost entirely committed there, and the prisoners apprehended elsewhere were therefore removed for trial to these counties.† That unfortunate district was already filled with dismay and horror by the barbarities of the troops; the roads leading to its principal towns were covered with prisoners under military guards; and the display and menace of warlike power were most conspicuous in the retinue of insolent soldiers and trembling culprits who followed the march of the judges, forming a melancholy contrast to the parental confidence which was wont to pervade the administration of the unarmed laws of a free people. Three hundred and twenty prisoners were arraigned at Dorchester, of whom thirty-five pleaded “not guilty;” and on their trial five were acquitted and thirty were convicted. The Chief Justice caused some intimation to be conveyed to the prisoners that confession was the only road to mercy; and to strengthen the effect of this hint, he sent twenty-nine of the persons convicted to immediate execution,—though one of them at least was so innocent that had there been time to examine his case, he might even then have been pardoned.* The intimation illustrated by such a commentary produced the intended effect: two hundred and eight at once confessed.† Eighty persons were, according to contemporary accounts, executed at Dorchester; and though the records state only the execution of fifty, yet as they contain no entry of judgment in two hundred and fifty cases, their silence affords no presumption against the common accounts.
The correspondence of Jeffreys with the King and the minister appears to have begun at Dorchester. From that place he wrote on the 8th of September, in terms of enthusiastic gratitude to Sunderland, to return thanks for the Great Seal.‡ Two days afterwards he informed Sunderland, that though “tortured by the stone,” he had that day “despatched ninety-eight rebels.”§ Sunderland assured him in answer, that the King approved all his proceedings, of which very minute accounts appear to have been constantly transmitted by Jeffreys directly to the King himself.∥ In the county of Somerset more than a thousand prisoners were arraigned for treason at Taunton and Wells, of whom only six ventured to put themselves on their trial by pleading “not guilty.” A thousand and forty confessed themselves to be guilty;—a proportion of confessions so little corresponding to the common chances of precipitate arrests, of malicious or mistaken charges, and of escapes on trial,—all which were multiplied in such violent and hurried proceedings,—as clearly to show that the measures of the circuit had already extinguished all expectation that the judges would observe the rules of justice. Submission afforded some chance of escape: from trial the most innocent could no longer have any hope. Only six days were allowed in this county to find indictments against a thousand prisoners, to arraign them, to try the few who still ventured to appeal to law, to record the confessions of the rest, and to examine the circumstances which ought, in each case, to aggravate or extenuate the punishment. The names of two hundred and thirty-nine persons executed there are preserved:¶ but as no judgments are entered,** we do not know how many more may have suffered. In order to diffuse terror more widely, these executions were directed to take place in thirty-six towns and villages. Three were executed in the village of Wrington, the birthplace of Mr. Locke, whose writings were one day to lessen the misery suffered by mankind from cruel laws and unjust judges. The general consternation spread by these proceedings has prevented a particular account of many of the cases from reaching us. In some of those more conspicuous instances which have been preserved, we see what so great a body of obnoxious culprits must have suffered in narrow and noisome prisons, where they were often destitute of the common necessaries of life, before a judge whose native rage and insolence were stimulated by daily intoxication, and inflamed by the agonies of an excruciating distemper, from the brutality of soldiers, and the cruelty of slavish or bigoted magistrates, while one part of their neighbours were hardened against them by faction, and the other deterred from relieving them by fear. The ordinary executioners, unequal to so extensive a slaughter, were aided by novices, whose unskilfulness aggravated the horrors of that death of torture which was then the legal punishment of high treason. Their lifeless remains were treated with those indignities and outrages which still* continue to disgrace the laws of a civilized age. They were beheaded and quartered, and the heads and limbs of the dead were directed to be placed on court-houses, and in all conspicuous elevations in streets, high roads, and churches. The country was filled with the dreadful preparations necessary to fit these inanimate members for such an exhibition; and the roads were covered by vehicles conveying them to great distances in every direction.† There was not a hamlet in which the poor inhabitants were not doomed hourly to look on the mangled remains of a neighbour or a relation. “All the high roads of the country were no longer to be travelled, while the horrors of so many quarters of men and the offensive stench of them lasted.”‡
While one of the most fertile and cheerful provinces of England was thus turned into a scene of horror by the mangled remains of the dead, the towns resounded with the cries, and the streets streamed with the blood of men, and even women and children, who were cruelly whipped for real or pretended sedition. The case of John Tutchin, afterwards a noted political writer, is a specimen of these minor cruelties. He was tried at Dorchester, under the assumed name of Thomas Pitts, for having said that Hampshire was up in arms for the Duke of Monmouth, and, on his conviction, was sentenced to be whipped through every market town in the county for seven years. The females in court burst into tears; and even one of the officers of the court ventured to observe to the Chief Justice, that the culprit was very young, and that the sentence would reach to once a fortnight for seven years. These symptoms of pity exposed the prisoner to new brutality from his judge. Tutchin is said to have petitioned the King for the more lenient punishment of the gallows. He was seized with the small-pox in prison; and, whether from unwonted compassion, or from the misnomer in the indictment, he appears to have escaped the greater part of the barbarous punishment to which he was doomed.*
These dreadful scenes are relieved by some examples of generous virtue in individuals of the victorious party. Harte, a clergyman of Taunton, following the excellent example of the Bishop, interceded for some of the prisoners with Jeffreys in the full career of his cruelty. The intercession was not successful, but it compelled him to honour the humanity to which he did not yield, for he soon after preferred Harte to be a prebendary of Bristol. Both Ken and Harte, who were probably at the moment charged with disaffection, sacrificed at a subsequent period their preferments, rather than violate the allegiance which they thought still to be due to the King; while Mew, Bishop of Winchester, who was on the field of battle at Sedgemoor, and who ordered that his coach horses should drag forward the artillery of the royal army, preserved his rich bishopric by compliance with the government of King William. The army of Monmouth also afforded instructive proofs, that the most furious zealots are not always the most consistent adherents. Ferguson and Hooke, two Presbyterian clergymen in that army, passed most of their subsequent lives in Jacobite intrigues, either from incorrigible habits of conspiracy, or from resentment at the supposed ingratitude of their own party, or from the inconstancy natural to men of unbridled passions and distempered minds. Daniel De Foe, one of the most original writers of the English nation, served in the army of Monmouth; but we do not know the particulars of his escape. A great satirist had afterwards the baseness to reproach both Tutchin and De Foe with sufferings, which were dishonourable only to those who inflicted them.†
In the mean time, peculiar circumstances rendered the correspondence of Jeffreys in Somersetshire with the King and his minister more specific and confidential than it had been in the preceding parts of the circuit. Lord Sunderland had apprised Jeffreys of the King’s pleasure to bestow a thousand convicts on several courtiers, and one hundred on a favourite of the Queen,* on these persons finding security that the prisoners should be enslaved for ten years in some West India island;—a limitation intended, perhaps, only to deprive the convicts of the sympathy of the Puritan colonists of New England, but which, in effect, doomed them to a miserable and lingering death in a climate where field-labour is fatal to Europeans. Jeffreys, in his answer to the King, remonstrates against this disposal of the prisoners, who, he says, would be worth ten or fifteen pounds a-piece,† and, at the same time, returns thanks for his Majesty’s gracious acceptance of his services. In a subsequent letter from Bristol,‡ he yields to the distribution of the convicts; boasts of his victory over that most factious city, where he had committed the mayor and an alderman, under pretence of their having sold to the plantations men whom they had unjustly convicted with a view to such a sale; and pledges himself “that Taunton, and Bristol, and the county of Somerset, should know their duty both to God and their King before he leaves them.” He entreats the King not to be surprised into pardons.
James, being thus regularly apprised of the most minute particulars of Jeffreys’ proceedings, was accustomed to speak of them to the foreign ministers under the name of “Jeffreys’ campaign.”§ He amused himself with horse-races at Winchester, the scene of the recent execution of Mrs. Lisle, during the hottest part of Jeffreys’ operations.∥ He was so fond of the phrase of “Jeffreys’ campaign,” as to use it twice in his correspondence with the Prince of Orange; and, on the latter occasion, in a tone of exultation approaching to defiance.¶ The excellent Ken had written to him a letter of expostulation on the subject. On the 30th of September, on Jeffreys’ return to court, his promotion to the office of Lord Chancellor was announced in the Gazette, with a panegyric on his services very unusual in the cold formalities of official appointment. Had James been dissatisfied with the conduct of Jeffreys, he had the means of repairing some part of its consequences, for the executions in Somersetshire were not concluded before the latter part of November; and among the persons who suffered in October was Mr. Hickes, a Nonconformist clergyman, for whom his brother, the learned Dr. Hickes, afterwards a sufferer in the cause of James, sued in vain for pardon.* Some months after, when Jeffreys had brought on a fit of dangerous illness by one of his furious debauches, the King expressed great concern, and declared that his loss could not be easily repaired.†
The public acts and personal demeanour of the King himself agreed too well with the general character of these judicial severities. An old officer, named Holmes, who was taken in Monmouth’s army, being brought up to London, was admitted to an interview with the King, who offered to spare his life if he would promise to live quietly. He answered, that his principles had been and still were “republican,” believing that form of government to be the best; and that he was an old man, whose life was as little worth asking as it was worth giving,—an answer which so displeased the King, that Holmes was removed to Dorchester, where he suffered death with fortitude and piety.‡ The proceedings on the circuit seem, indeed, to have been so exclusively directed by the King and the Chief Justice, that even Lord Sunderland, powerful as he was, could not obtain the pardon of one delinquent. Yet the case was favourable, and deserves to be shortly related, as characteristic of the times. Lord Sunderland interceded repeatedly§ with Jeffreys for a youth named William Jenkins, who was executed∥ in spite of such powerful solicitations. He was the son of an eminent Nonconformist clergyman, who had recently died in Newgate after a long imprisonment, inflicted on him for the performance of his clerical duties. Young Jenkins had distributed mourning rings, on which was inscribed “William Jenkins, murdered in Newgate.” He was in consequence imprisoned in the jail of Ilchester, and, being released by Monmouth’s army, he joined his deliverers against his oppressors.
Vain attempts have been made to exculpate James, by throwing part of the blame of these atrocities upon Pollexfen, an eminent Whig lawyer, who was leading counsel in the prosecutions;* —a wretched employment, which he probably owed, as a matter of course, to his rank as senior King’s counsel on the circuit. His silent acquiescence in the illegal proceedings against Mrs. Lisle must, indeed, brand his memory with indelible infamy; but, from the King’s perfect knowledge of the circumstances of that case, it seems to be evident that Pollexfen’s interposition would have been unavailing: and the subsequent proceedings were carried on with such utter disregard of the forms, as well as the substance of justice, that counsel had probably no duty to perform, and no opportunity to interfere. To these facts may be added, what, without such preliminary evidence, would have been of little weight, the dying declaration of Jeffreys himself, who, a few moments before he expired, said to Dr. Scott, an eminent divine who attended him in the Tower, “Whatever I did then I did by express orders; and I have this farther to say for myself, that I was not half bloody enough for him who sent me thither.”†
Other trials occurred under the eye of James in London, where, according to an ancient and humane usage, no sentence of death is executed till the case is laid before the King in person, that he may determine whether there be any room for mercy. Mr. Cornish, an eminent merchant, charged with a share in the Rye House Plot, was apprehended, tried, and executed within the space of ten days, the court having refused him the time which he alleged to be necessary to bring up a material witness.‡ Colonel Rumsey, the principal witness for the Crown, owned that on the trial of Lord Russell he had given evidence which directly contradicted his testimony against Cornish. This avowal of perjury did not hinder his conviction and execution; but the scandal was so great, that James was obliged, in a few days, to make a tardy reparation for the precipitate injustice of his judges. The mutilated limbs of Cornish were restored to his relations, and Rumsey was confined for life to St. Nicholas’ Island, at Plymouth,§ a place of illegal imprisonment, still kept up in defiance of the Habeas Corpus Act. This virtual acknowledgment by the King of the falsehood of Rumsey’s testimony assumes an importance in history, when it is considered as a proof of the perjury of one of the two witnesses against Lord Russell,—the man of most unspotted virtue who ever suffered on an English scaffold. Ring, Fernley, and Elizabeth Gaunt, persons of humble condition in life, were tried on the same day with Cornish, for harbouring some fugitives from Monmouth’s army. One of the persons to whom Ring afforded shelter was his near kinsman. Fernley was convicted on the sole evidence of Burton, whom he had concealed from the search of the public officers. When a witness was about to be examined for Fernley, the Court allowed one of their own officers to cry out that the witness was a Whig; while one of the judges, still more conversant with the shades of party, sneered at another of his witnesses as a Trimmer. When Burton was charged with being an accomplice in the Rye House Plot, Mrs. Gaunt received him, supplied him with money, and procured him a passage to Holland. After the defeat of Monmouth, with whom he returned, he took refuge in the house of Fernley, where Mrs. Gaunt visited him, again supplied him with money, and undertook a second time to save his life, by procuring the means of his again escaping into Holland. When Burton was apprehended, the prosecutors had their choice, if a victim was necessary, either of proceeding against him, whom they charged with open rebellion and intended assassination, or against Mrs. Gaunt, whom they could accuse only of acts of humanity and charity forbidden by their laws. They chose to spare the wretched Burton, in order that he might swear away the lives of others for having preserved his own. Eight judges, of whom Jeffreys was no longer one, sat on these deplorable trials. Roger North, known as a contributor to our history, was an active counsel against the benevolent and courageous Mrs. Gaunt. William Penn was present when she was burnt alive,* and having familiar access to James, is likely to have related to him the particulars of that and of the other executions at the same time. At the stake, she disposed the straw around her, so as to shorten her agony by a strong and quick fire, with a composure which melted the spectators into tears. She thanked God that he had enabled her to succour the desolate; that “the blessing of those who were ready to perish” came upon her; and that, in the act for which she was doomed by men to destruction, she had obeyed the sacred precepts which commanded her “to hide the outcast, and not to betray him that wandereth.” Thus was this poor and uninstructed woman supported under a death of cruel torture, by the lofty consciousness of suffering for righteousness, and by that steadfast faith in the final triumph of justice which can never visit the last moments of the oppressor. The dying speeches of the prisoners executed in London were suppressed, and the outrages offered to the remains of the dead were carried to an unusual degree.* The body of Richard Rumbold, who had been convicted and executed at Edinburgh, under a Scotch law, was brought up to London. The sheriffs of London were commanded, by a royal warrant, to set up one of the quarters on one of the gates of the city, and to deliver the remaining three to the sheriff of Hertford, who was directed by another warrant to place them at or near Rumbold’s late residence at the Rye House;† —impotent but studied outrages, which often manifest more barbarity of nature than do acts of violence to the living.
The chief restraint on the severity of Jeffreys seems to have arisen from his rapacity. Contemporaries of all parties agree that there were few gratuitous pardons, and that wealthy convicts seldom sued to him in vain. Kiffin, a Nonconformist merchant, had agreed to give 3000l. to a courtier for the pardon of two youths of the name of Luson, his grandsons, who had been in Monmouth’s army. But Jeffreys guarded his privilege of selling pardons, by unrelenting rigour towards those prisoners from whom mercy had thus been sought through another channel.‡ He was attended on his circuit by a buffoon, to whom, as a reward for his merriment in one of his hours of revelry, he tossed the pardon of a rich culprit, expressing his hope that it might turn to good account. But this traffic in mercy was not confined to the Chief Justice: the King pardoned Lord Grey to increase the value of the grant of his life-estate, which had been made to Lord Rochester. The young women of Taunton, who had presented colours and a Bible to Monmouth, were excepted by name from the general pardon, in order that they might purchase separate ones. To aggravate this indecency, the money to be thus extorted from them was granted to persons of their own sex,—the Queen’s maids of honour; and it must be added with regret, that William Penn, sacrificing other objects to the hope of obtaining the toleration of his religion from the King’s favour, was appointed an agent for the maids of honour, and submitted to receive instructions “to make the most advantageous composition he could in their behalf.”§ The Duke of Somerset in vain attempted to persuade Sir Francis Warre, a neighbouring gentleman, to obtain 7000l. from the young women, without which, he said, the maids of honour were determined to prosecute them to outlawry. Roger Hoare, an eminent trader of Bridgewater, saved his life by the payment to them of 1000l.; but he was kept in suspense respecting his pardon till he came to the foot of the gallows, for no other conceivable purpose than that of extorting the largest possible sum. This delay caused the insertion of his execution in the first narratives of these events: but he lived to take the most just revenge on tyrants, by contributing, as representative in several Parliaments for his native town, to support that free government which prevented the restoration of tyranny.
The same disposition was shown by the King and his ministers in the case of Mr. Hampden, the grandson of him who, forty years before, had fallen in battle for the liberties of his country. Though this gentleman had been engaged in the consultations of Lord Russell and Mr. Sidney, yet there being only one witness against him, he was not tried for treason, but was convicted of a misdemeanor, and on the evidence of Lord Howard condemned to pay a fine of 40,000l. His father being in possession of the family estate, he remained in prison till after Monmouth’s defeat, when he was again brought to trial for the same act as high treason, under pretence that a second witness had been discovered.* It had been secretly arranged, that if he pleaded guilty he should be pardoned on paying a large sum of money to two of the King’s favourites. At the arraignment, both the judges and Mr. Hampden performed the respective parts which the secret agreement required; he humbly entreating their intercession to obtain the pardon which he had already secured by more effectual means, and they extolling the royal mercy, and declaring that the prisoner, by his humble confession, had taken the best means of qualifying himself to receive it. The result of this profanation of the forms of justice and mercy was, that Mr. Hampden was in a few months allowed to reverse his attainder, on payment of a bribe of 6000l. to be divided between Jeffreys and Father Petre, the two guides of the King in the performance of his duty to God and his people.†
Another proceeding, of a nature still more culpable, showed the same union of mercenary with sanguinary purposes in the King and his ministers. Prideaux, a gentleman of fortune in the West of England, was apprehended on the landing of Monmouth, for no other reason than that his father had been attorney-general under the Commonwealth and the Protectorate. Jeffreys, actuated here by personal motives, employed agents through the prisons to discover evidence against Prideaux. The lowest prisoners were offered their lives, and a sum of 500l. if they would give evidence against him. Such, however, was the inflexible morality of the Nonconformists, who formed the bulk of Monmouth’s adherents, that they remained unshaken by these offers, amidst the military violence which surrounded them, and in spite of the judicial rigours which were to follow. Prideaux was enlarged. Jeffreys himself, however, was able to obtain some information, though not upon oath, from two convicts under the influence of the terrible proceedings at Dorchester;* and Prideaux was again apprehended. The convicts were brought to London; and one of them was conducted to a private interview with the Lord Chancellor, by Sir Roger L’Estrange, the most noted writer in the pay of the Court. Prideaux, alarmed at these attempts to tamper with witnesses, employed the influence of his friends to obtain his pardon. The motive for Jeffreys’ unusual activity was then discovered. Prideaux’s friends were told that nothing could be done for him, as “the King had given him” (the familiar phrase for a grant of an estate either forfeited or about to be forfeited) to the Chancellor, as a reward for his services. On application to one Jennings, the avowed agent of the Chancellor for the sale of pardons, it was found that Jeffreys, unable to procure evidence on which he could obtain the whole of Prideaux’s large estates by a conviction, had now resolved to content himself with a bribe of 10,000l. for the deliverance of a man so innocent, that by the formalities of law, perverted as they then were, the Lord Chancellor could not effect his destruction. Payment of so large a sum was at first resisted; but to subdue this contumacy, Prideaux’s friends were forbidden to have access to him in prison, and his ransom was raised to 15,000l. The money was then publicly paid by a banker to the Lord Chancellor of England by name. Even in the administration of the iniquitous laws of confiscation, there are probably few instances where, with so much premeditation and effrontery, the spoils of an accused man were promised first to the judge, who might have tried him, and afterwards to the Chancellor who was to advise the King in the exercise of mercy.†
Notwithstanding the perjury of Rumsey in the case of Cornish, a second experiment was made on the effect of his testimony by producing him, together with Lord Grey and one Saxton, as a witness against Lord Brandon on a charge of treason.‡ The accused was convicted, and Rumsey was still allowed to correspond confidentially with the Prime Minister,§ to whom he even applied for money. But when the infamy of Rumsey became notorious, and when Saxton had perjured himself on the subsequent trial of Lord Delamere, it was thought proper to pardon Lord Brandon, against whom no testimony remained but that of Lord Grey, who, when he made his confession, is said to have stipulated that no man should be put to death on his evidence. But Brandon was not enlarged on bail till fourteen months, nor was his pardon completed till two years after his trial.*
The only considerable trial which remained was that of Lord Delamere, before the Lord Steward (Jeffreys) and thirty peers. Though this nobleman was obnoxious and formidable to the Court, the proof of the falsehood and infamy of Saxton, the principal witness against him, was so complete, that he was unanimously acquitted;—a remarkable and almost solitary exception to the prevalent proceedings of courts of law at that time, arising partly from a proof of the falsehood of the charge more clear than can often be expected, and partly perhaps from the fellow-feeling of the judges with the prisoner, and from the greater reproach to which an unjust judgment exposes its authors, when in a conspicuous station.
The administration of justice in state prosecutions is one of the surest tests of good government. The judicial proceedings which have been thus carefully and circumstantially related afford a specimen of those evils from which England was delivered by the Revolution. As these acts were done with the aid of juries, and without the censure of Parliament, they also afford a fatal proof that judicial forms and constitutional establishments may be rendered unavailing by the subserviency or the prejudices of those who are appointed to carry them into effect. The wisest institutions may become a dead letter, and may even, for a time, be converted into a shelter and an instrument of tyranny, when the sense of justice and the love of liberty are weakened in the minds of a people.
[* ] “Clerks and gentlemen’s servants.” Evelyn, Memoirs, vol. i. p. 558. The Earl of Bath carried fifteen of the new charters with him into Cornwall, from which he was called the “Prince Elector.” “There are not 135 in this House who sat in the last,” p. 562. By the lists in the Parliamentary History they appear to be only 128.
[* ] North, Life of Lord Keeper Guildford, p. 218.
[* ] Temple, Memoirs, &c. part iii.
[† ] “Lord Sunderland knows I have always been very kind to him.”—Duke of York to Mr. Legge, 23d July, 1679. Legge MSS.
[‡ ] Some of Lord Sunderland’s competitors in this province were not formidable. His successor, Lord Conway, when a foreign minister spoke to him of the Circles of the Empire, said, “he wondered what circles should have to do with politics.”
[* ] North, p. 230.
[† ] “I have long looked upon Lord Halifax and Lord Essex as men who did not love monarchy, such as it is in England.”—Duke of York to Mr. Legge, suprà.
[* ] Temple, Memoirs, part iii.
[† ] Dedication to King Arthur.Jotham, of piercing wit and pregnant thought,Endued by nature and by learning taughtTo move assemblies; who but only triedThe worse awhile, then chose the better side;Nor chose alone, but turned the balance too.Absalom and Achitophel.
[‡] Lord Halifax says, “Mr. Dryden told me that he was offered money to write against me.”—Fox MSS.
[* ] Lords’ Journals, 20th Dec. 1689. The Duchess of Portsmouth said to Lord Montague, “that if others had been as earnest as my Lord Halifax with the King, Lord Russell might have been saved.”—Fox MSS. Other allusions in these MSS., which I ascribe to Lord Halifax, show that his whole fault was a continuance in office after the failure of his efforts to save Lord Russell.
[† ] Life of Lord Russell, by Lord John Russell, p. 215.
[‡ ] Evidence of Mr. Hampden and Sir James Forbes.—Lords’ Journals, 20th Dec. 1689.
[§ ] “Milord Godolphin, quoiqu’il est du secret, n’a pas grand credit, et songe seulement à se conserver par une conduite sage et moderée. Je ne pense pas que s’il en étoit cru, on prit des liaisons avec V. M. qui pussent aller à se passer enti&erement de parlement, et à rompre nettement avec le Prince d’Orange.”—Barillon to the King, 16th April, 1685. Fox, History of James II., app. lx.
[* ] North, p. 234. (After the Northern Circuit, 1684,—in our computation. 1685.)
[† ] Examination of John Tisard.—Lords’ Journals, 20th Dec. 1690.
[* ] See the account of his behaviour at a ball in the city, soon after Sidney’s condemnation; Evelyn, vol. i. p. 531; and at the dinner at Duncombe’s, a rich citizen, where the Lord Chancellor (Jeffreys) and the Lord Treasurer (Rochester) were with difficulty prevented from appearing naked in a balcony, to drink loyal toasts, Reresby, Memoirs, p. 231, and of his “flaming” drunkenness at the Privy Council, when the King was present.—North, p. 250.
[† ] Evelyn, vol. i. p. 579.
[* ] For the principal part of the enormities of Feversham, we have the singular advantage of the testimony of two eye-witnesses,—an officer in the royal army, Kennet, History of England, vol. iii. p. 432, and Oldmixon, History of England, vol. i. p. 704. See also Locke’s Western Rebellion.
[† ] Lord Sunderland’s letter to Lord Feversham, 8th July.—State Paper Office.
[‡ ] Toulmin’s Taunton, by Savage, p. 522, where, after a period of near one hundred and forty years, the authentic evidence of this fact is for the first time published, together with other important particulars of Monmouth’s revolt, and of the military and judicial cruelties which followed it. These nine are by some writers swelled to nineteen, probably from confounding them with that number executed at Taunton by virtue of Jeffreys’ judgments. The number of ninety mentioned on this occasion by others seems to be altogether an exaggeration.
[§ ] Kirke to Lord Sunderland. Taunton, 12th Aug.—State Paper Office.
[* ] This story is told neither by Oldmixon nor Burnet, nor by the humble writers of the Bloody Assizes or the Quadriennium Jacobi. Echard and Kennet, who wrote long after, mentioned it only as a report. It first appeared in print in 1699, in Pomfret’s poem of Cruelty and Lust. The next mention is in the anonymous Life of William III., published in 1702. A story very similar is told by St. Augustine of a Roman officer, and in the Spectator, No. 491, of a governor of Zealand, probably from a Dutch chronicle or legend. The scene is laid by some at Taunton, by others at Exeter. The person executed is said by some to be the father, by others to be the husband, and by others again to be the brother of the unhappy young woman, whose name it has been found impossible to ascertain, or even plausibly to conjecture. The tradition, which is still said to prevail at Taunton, may well have originated in a publication of one hundred and twenty years old.
[† ] Narcissus Luttrell, MS. Diary, 15th July; six days after their occurrence.
[‡ ] Ken’s examination before the Privy Council, in 1696.—Biographia Britannica, Article Ken.
[§ ] North, p. 260. This inaccurate writer refers the complaint to Jeffreys’ proceedings, which is impossible, since Lord Guildford died in Oxfordshire, on the 5th September, after a long illness, Lady Lisle was executed on the 3d; and her execution, the only one which preceded the death of the Lord Keeper, could scarcely have reached him in his dying moments.
[* ] 14th July.—State Paper Office.
[† ] 21st July.—Ibid.
[‡ ] 25th and 28th July, and 3d August.—State Paper Office.
[§ ] Oldmixon, vol. i. p. 705.
[∥ ] Papers in the War Office. MS.
[¶ ] Savage, p. 525.
[** ] Two years after the suppression of the Western revolt, we find Kirke treated with favour by the King.—“Colonel Kirke is made housekeeper of Whitehall, in the room of his kinsman, deceased.”—Narcissus Luttrell, Sept. 1687. He was nearly related to, or perhaps the son of George Kirke, groom of the bedchamber to Charles I., one of whose beautiful daughters. Mary, a maid of honour, was the Warmestré of Count Hamilton, (Notes to Mémoires de Grammont), and the other, Diana, was the wife of the last Earl of Oxford, of the house of De Vere.—Dugdale’s Baronage, tit. Oxford.
[* ] Lord Chief Baron Montague, Levison, Watkins, and Wright, of whom the three former sat on the subsequent trials of Mr. Cornish and Mrs. Gaunt.
[† ] This order was dated on the 24th August, 1685.—Papers in the War Office. From this circumstance originated the story, that Jeffreys had a commission as Commander-in-Chief.
[‡ ] State Trials, vol. xi. p. 298.
[* ] Despatch from Lord Sunderland to Lord-Lieutenants of Counties. 20th June, 1685.
[† ] Hale, Pleas of the Crown, part i. c. 22. Foster, Discourse on Accomplices, chap. 1.
[* ] By the favour of the clerk of assize, I have before me many of the original records of this circuit. The account of it by Lord Lonsdale was written in 1688. The Bloody Assizes, and the Life of Jeffreys, were published in 1689. They were written by one Shirley, a compiler, and by Pitts, a surgeon in Monmouth’s army. Six thousand copies of the latter were sold.—Life of John Dunton, vol. i. p. 184. Roger Coke, a contemporary, and Oldmixon, almost an eye-witness, vouch for their general fairness; and I have found an unexpected degree of coincidence between them and the circuit records. Burnet came to reside at Salisbury in 1689, and he and Kennet began to relate the facts about seventeen years after they occurred. Father Orleans, and the writer of James’ Life, admit the cruelties, while they vainly strive to exculpate the King from any share in them. From a comparison of those original authorities, and from the correspondence, hitherto unknown, in the State Paper Office, the narrative of the text has been formed.
[† ] There were removed to Dorchester ninety-four from Somerset, eighty-nine from Devon, fifty-five from Wilts, and twenty-three from London.—Circuit Records.
[* ] Bragg, an attorney. Bloody Assizes. Western Rebellion.
[† ] Calendar for Dorsetshire summer assizes, 1685.
[‡ ] The Great Seal had only been vacant three days, as Lord Keeper Guildford died at his seat at Wroxton, on the 5th.
[§ ] 8th and 10th Sept.—State Paper Office.
[∥ ] Windsor, 14th Sept.—Ibid.
[¶ ] Life and Death of George Lord Jeffreys. (London, 1689.)
[** ] Circuit Records.
[* ] 1822.—Ed.
[† ] “Nothing could be liker hell than these parts: cauldrons hissing, carcasses boiling, pitch and tar sparkling and glowing, bloody limbs boiling, and tearing, and mangling.”—Bloody Assizes. “England is now an Aceldama. The country for sixty miles, from Bristol to Exeter, had a new terrible sort of sign-posts, gibbets, heads and quarters of its slaughtered inhabitants.”—Oldmixon, vol. i. p. 707.
[‡ ] Lord Lonsdale, (Memoirs of the Reign of James II., p. 13,) confirms the testimony of the two former more ardent partisans, both of whom, however, were eye-witnesses.
[* ] Savage, p. 509. Western Rebellion. Dorchester Calendar, summer assizes, 1685.
[† ] “Earless on high stood unabashed De Foe, And Tutchin flagrant from the scourge below.” Dunciad, book ii.
[* ] 14th and 15th Sept.—State Paper Office. 200 to Sir Robert White, 200 to Sir William Booth, 100 to Sir C. Musgrave, 100 to Sir W. Stapleton, 100 to J. Kendall, 100 to—Triphol, 100 to a merchant. “The Queen has asked 100 more of the rebels.”
[† ] Taunton, 19th Sept.—Ibid.
[‡ ] 22d Sept.—Ibid.
[§ ] Burnet, History of his Own Time, (fol.) vol. i. p. 648.
[∥ ] 14th to 18th Sept.—London Gazettes.
[¶ ] 10th and 24th Sept.—Dalrymple, Memoirs of Great Britain, appendix to part i. book ii.
[* ] The Père d’Orleans, who wrote under the eye of James, in 1695, mentions the displeasure of the King at the sale of pardons, and seems to refer to Lord Sunderland’s letter to Kirke, who, we know from Oldmixon, was guilty of that practice; and, in other respects, rather attempts to account for, than to deny, the acquiescence of the King in the cruelties.—Révolutions d’Angleterre, liv. xi. The testimony of Roger North, if it has any foundation, cannot be applied to this part of the subject. The part of the Life of James II. which relates to it is the work only of the anonymous biographer, Mr. Dicconson of Lancashire, and abounds with the grossest mistakes. The assertion of Sheffield, Duke of Buckingham in the Account of the Revolution, that Jeffreys disobeyed James’ orders, is disproved by the correspondence already quoted. There is, on the whole, no colour for the assertion of Macpherson, (History of Great Britain, vol. i. p. 453), or for the doubts of Dalrymple.
[† ] Barillon, 4th Feb. 1686.—Fox MSS.
[‡ ] Lord Lonsdale, p. 12. Calendar for Dorsetshire. Bloody Assizes. The account of Colonel Holmes by the anonymous biographer (Life of James II. vol. ii. p. 43,) is contradicted by all these authorities. It is utterly improbable, and is not more honourable to James than that here adopted.
[§ ] Lord Sunderland to Lord Jeffreys, 12th Sept.—State Paper Office.
[∥ ] At Taunton, 30th Sept.—Western Rebellion.
[* ] Life of James II., vol. ii. p. 44.
[† ] Burnet (Oxford. 1823), vol. iii. p. 61. Speaker Onslow’s Note. Onslow received this information from Sir J. Jekyll, who heard it from Lord Somers, to whom it was communicated by Dr. Scott. The account of Tutchin, who stated that Jeffreys had made the same declaration to him in the Tower, is thus confirmed by indisputable evidence.
[‡ ] State Trials, vol. xi. p. 382.
[§ ] Narcissus Luttrell, 19th April 1686.
[* ] Clarkson, Life of Penn, vol. i. p. 448.
[* ] Narcissus Luttrell, 16th Nov., 1685.
[† ] Warrants, 27th and 28th October, 1685.—State Paper Office. One quarter was to be put up at Aldgate; the remaining three at Hoddesdon, the Rye, and Bishop’s Stortford.
[‡ ] Kiffin’s Memoirs, p. 54. See answer of Kiffin to James, ibid. p. 159.
[§ ] Lord Sunderland to William Penn, 13th Feb. 1686.—State Paper Office.
[* ] State Trials, vol. xi. p. 479.
[† ] Lords’ Journals, 20th Dec. 1689. This document has been overlooked by all historians, who, in consequence, have misrepresented the conduct of Mr. Hampden.
[* ] Sunderland to Jeffreys, 14th Sept. 1685.—State Paper Office.
[† ] Commons’ Journals, 1st May, 1689.
[‡ ] Narcissus Luttrell, 25th Nov., 1685; which, though very short, is more full than any published account of Lord Brandon’s trial.
[§ ] Rumsey to Lord Sunderland, Oct. 1685, and Jan. 1686.—State Paper Office.
[* ] Narcissus Luttrell, Jan. and Oct. 1687.