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A short View of the Conspiracy, with some Reflections on the Present State of Affairs. In a Letter to an Old Whig in the Country. By Cato. Anno 1723. - John Trenchard, A Collection of Tracts, vol. 2 
A Collection of Tracts. By the Late John Trenchard, Esq; and Thomas Gordon, Esq; Vol. II. (London: F. Cogan, 1751).
Part of: A Collection of Tracts, 2 vols.
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A short View of the Conspiracy, with some Reflections on the Present State of Affairs. In a Letter to an Old Whig in the Country. ByCato.
Id facinus ego in primis memorabile existimo, sceleris atque periculi Novitate. Igitur de Conjuratione, quam verissimè potero, paucis absolvam: eo magis quod mihi a spe, metu, partibus Reipublicæ Animus liber est.
THE late execrable Design against the British Liberty does not employ the Thoughts of this Nation only, but affords Matter of Speculation for all Europe. The Danish Conspiracy is scarce thought to deserve that Name, when compared to what was carrying on in England; and Paul Juel’s Schemes are accounted trifling, to the far more black and hellish Designs of our Jacobites here.
In your last you desire my Sentiments on the present State of Affairs, which you say would be useful not onto yourself, but to many others in your Country. As I can refuse you nothing, I shall endeavour to give you a faithful Abstract of the most material Transactions; which that I may do with the greater Clearness, I shall look back on some past Occurrences, which the Hurry of your own Business may have hindered you from reflecting upon, or perhaps has since made you forget.
You may very well remember, Sir, how every Thing stood when you left the Town; the Distractions and general Uneasiness which attended the fatal Execution of the South Sea Scheme; the Apprehension of the Plague, and the Alarm given on the first Discovery of a Plot, which every one received just as they were disposed to receive any Information from the Ministry: The Factious secretly rejoiced at the Opportunity which they thought was now given them of compassing their Ends; the Lovers of their Country trembled at the Thoughts of the dark Designs and artful Cabals of Rome at so dreadful a Juncture; whilst we, who fancied ourselves the only wise Men in the Nation, laughed at and ridiculed all that was advanced on this Head, thinking it only a politic Step, a new Subject invented to drown all Thoughts of the old One; and in short, a Plot to stifle our Resentments against the South Sea Transactions.
But we now see the Greatness of our Folly in the midst of our fancied Wisdom; we had then forgot the previous Steps always taken by the Jacobites when they had schemed out any important Design, and that they never attempted any thing of Consequence, but they first paved the Way for it, by poisoning the Minds of the People from the Press, which at such Times always groaned under the Weight of Scandal and seditious Libels.
Accordingly you cannot but remember the numerous Pamphlets published against the Administration, besides many of my Writings, which were all forced into their Service. In one Paper we had the Chief Minister exposed under the Character of Cataline; in another, the whole Iniquity of the South Sea Scheme was charged, as if contrived by the Men in Power; though at present we all know that it was only the casual Effect of the Madness and Avarice of the People, joined with the Villainy of some of the Directors. In a Third, a great Man who was contriving to save us from Ruin, was exposed to the Rage of the Populace, under the Character of a Screener of the Guilty. In a Fourth, the Sense of the People was assumed, and the general Voice was wrested to be turned against all in the Administration. Nor did they stop here: The King himself was in one of the Prints represented under the Image of the most odious Roman Tyrant; and in two other infamous Libels, his Person and Family were abused in the vilest manner, under the Title of The Benefits and Advantages of the Hanover Succession. So little indeed was their Design perceived by myself, that I own many Things dropped from my Pen, which seemed calculated for the Service of the Faction; and so insensible was I of the projected Insurrection, that I inveighed against the Forces encamped on that Occasion, with the Zeal always shewn by us Old Whigs against standing Armies. The Fears of arbitrary Government were set in the worst Point of Light, and the very Means of preserving us were represented as the designed Means of enslaving us; for had these Fears and Clamours prevailed, and the King’s Forces been disbanded, their Success would have been unquestionable.
A Parliament being to be chosen about this Time, all Methods were taken to get one least averse to their grand Purpose; and the better to succeed, the Freeholder was brought upon the Stage; a Paper fraught with the utmost Malice against the present Government. They knew full well that their own Faction would take the Hint, and they were in Hopes of biassing the honest unthinking Men of the Nation; the Doctrine of Passive Obedience was forgot, and the Lawfulness of Resistance preached up in many Places. To destroy the King’s Title to the Crown, the Revolution was openly censured and condemned, particularly in A short Review of the English History; and another Work of the same Nature, by a very great Man, was prepared for the Press, and designed to be published about the same time.
It was not in the least surprizing indeed, that the South Sea Business should be the constant Topic of so many People: In a General Court of that Company it was their Business to talk of it, in the Senate their Duty, in order to redress the Grievances of the People, and to restore public Credit. The Merchant, scarce able to pursue his Trade, might be allowed to complain; and it was natural in the unhappy Sufferers to rail, and, as it is usual, though without any just Grounds, blindly to attribute every thing that miscarries in a State to the Persons then in Power. The Ministry were railed at, whilst they with Pity looked on the Misfortunes of their Fellow Subjects, and compassionating their Losses, were above resenting their opprobrious Language. In all this, I say, there was nothing surprizing: But to hear those who should be the Ministers of God’s Word, amusing themselves with Mercantile Affairs, and a Scheme for paying National Debts, descanted on in a Place so sacred as the Pulpit, was something shocking indeed; and this not by a Sufferer, but by a Country Curate, or petty Town Lecturer, perhaps, who never had a Groat to lose in this or any other Company. What could be the Aim of their Reflections and Insinuations? Is it not natural to suppose, that it was to persuade the Vulgar, that Heaven was angry at what was done, and had marked out the first Contrivers of it for the Objects of its Wrath and Vengeance; and who at that time were supposed, or at least insinuated to be, the Contrivers of it, I need not inform you. Yet cannot the destructive Execution of a felonious Scheme be mentioned by a Preacher, without his having a Fling at the late Parliament: This, it seems, was a ‘National Judgment for the National Crimes of Avarice and Ambition, which spread themselves almost over every Order and Degree of Men amongst us; and in attempting to corrupt the Representatives of our Nation, would have made them, like the Jewish Sanhedrim and Consistory; which, by the Prophet’s Account, must have been a Body of as designedly wicked Men, as ever met together to betray a Constitution.’
Nor must, in such a Case as this, the Ministry be forgotten. As I would not be thought to advance what is not strictly Fact, I will not assert, that in any of the printed Sermons a Priest had the Impudence to charge them with Bribery and Corruption; but I’ll take notice of one Paragraph in a Sermon preached about the Time I have been talking of, and leave you to judge whether or no there be any such thing strongly insinuated.
‘We shall be less surprized at these Things, says the Preacher, when we pass into the Temple of the Lord, and see the wonderful and horrible Thing———The Priests teaching for Hire, and the Prophets divining for Money or Preferment:’ (By the by, I should be glad to know whether this very Sermon was preached gratis; but to my Purpose) ‘suting their Doctrines to the Times, and forbearing at least, if not allowing the Vices of the Great and Powerful. I do not remember to have read or heard of any modern Sermon at Court against the Vices and Temptations most incident to high and exalted Stations; such as Bribery and Corruption, or Riot, or Luxury, or the probable Iniquities of a Masquerade. But Love, and Peace, and Charity, and Forbearance, and Toleration, the Duty of Ministers of the Gospel, and Cæsar’s undisputed Title, which are in themselves very good Topics, properly insisted on, are there excellently well displayed and inculcated into an Audience, whose Sphere of Action requires, for the most Part, monitory Discourses of another Nature. And would to God this were the worst; and that Fearfulness, or Flattery, or Omissions, were our greatest Faults. But when Doctrines are advanced in direct Contradiction to the plainest Words of Scripture———”
I will not trouble you with a longer Quotation, I dare say you are already beforehand with me, and imagine what Subject he is going upon; and indeed it would be surprizing to meet with such a Sermon, and not one Fling at the Bishop of Hereford; to whose eternal Praise be it recorded, that he has been reviled in almost every Writing, which since his Majesty’s happy Accession to the Throne has been published, reflecting on his sacred Person, the Protestant Succession, or his faithful Ministers. Mistake me not, Sir, I only observe this in passing, to the Praise of that great good Man, but do not pretend to say that there are any such Reflections in this Sermon, either on the King or his Ministry; but vile ones there are upon the Bishop, unbecoming the Stile of a Gentleman, and ill suiting with the Charity we might expect in a Priest; but take his own Words.
‘I cannot but affirm, that I look upon the modern Growth and Encouragement of Schism, the open Profession of Heresy, the numerous daily Attacks made upon our Church, to be justly chargeable upon the corrupt Explication of those Words of our Saviour—My Kingdom is not of this World; whereby a greater Latitude has been given to Men desirous of Change, than ever yet the CHURCH thought of or approved. Nay, Popery itself, to which it directly tends, never at its worst allowed such unconditional Indulgences. I say it directly tends to Popery———
For my Part, I have Charity enough in me to believe this Preacher very ignorant; for upon entring on this Subject, he repeats what he before said, to wit, that he disclaimed all Hypocrisy and Dissimulation: And in a Place so sacred, sure no Man could condemn Prevarication, and at the same time prevaricate. It must therefore be the very Extreme of Ignorance to advance, that the Doctrines of this pious Man tend directly to Popery, when all his Aim, all his Labour has been only to root out the very Appearance of Popery from amongst us; which one while seemed like a Torrent rushing in upon us, when all Christian Charity was banished from amongst us, and Persecution shook her Iron Rod over this Nation.
You will be apt, I am afraid, to say, that I digress from my Purpose, and ask what these Doctrines have to do with the late Conspiracy, which was the Subject you desired me inform you of. Reflect a little, and the thing will answer itself: Dr. Hoadley owes his Preferment to his present Majesty, and that just and sagacious Prince not only raised him to the Episcopal Dignity, but has since translated him to a better See; he has taken him under his gracious Protection, and defended him from the ravenous Vultures that would have devoured him: The Reflections do not therefore fall upon him only, but on the best of Princes at the same time; and when the Bishop is railed at from so sacred a Place, the credulous deluded People are taught, that either the King knows not whom he prefers, or prefers impious Men, unfit for the Charge of Pastors, and who betray the Trust reposed in them.
Nor are these the only Insinuations that are to be met with in Sermons of that Time; you know what Noise the Bill for preserving us from the Plague, made in the World, and what handle the Building of Barracks was made both against the King and his Ministers. This indeed might be a proper Subject for the Politician to discuss, or a Senate to debate; but to hear a Pulpit-Orator cry, In vain shall we build Barracks for restoring the Sick, and preserving the Sound, is Impudence to the highest Degree. In the same Author we find a much stronger Insinuation, for after mentioning the Blessings of Peace (meaning the glorious Utrecht Peace) he tells us, that God has preserved our Religion, and not yet deprived us of our Liberties. But I am really surprized at nothing that could come from a Man, who, in reckoning the Punishments we have suffered for our Sins, says, Hence we have seen Princes become Vagabonds, and beg their Bread, and Nobles seek it out of desolate Places.
I cannot drop this Subject without taking Notice of two other Sermons, though I shall not dwell upon them, the Preachers not having been imprudent enough to print their Discourses; the former in a Country Congregation, just at the Time that a Report was spread, that there was another Rising in Scotland: The Discourse was introduced as a moral one, and in the Proëmium nothing was touched upon but the Heinousness of Sin; but when he came to describe a Sinner, we had the Character of an Old Whig drawn in the Light he is usually set off by a Jacobite Pencil; nor was the 30th of January, and the Repeal of the Schism Bill, forgotten. In short, when we were all made sensible whom he meant, the Discourse was concluded with a Quotation of one of the Prophets (for you may observe, that at such times they are always fond of dealing in Prophecies) Let them remember that Destruction shall come upon them from the North. But the Preacher having since given an Account of his Stewardship, and received the Rewards or Punishments he deserved, according to the Works done in the Flesh, whether they were good, or whether they were bad; I shall leave him, and proceed to the other, whom I still believe living.
It was at about ten Miles Distance from Town, in a very large Village, and at a Season of the Year when all People of Quality and Fashion are retired to their Country Seats; and I know no Church that at such time has a more polite Audience. Here our brawny Pastor came as a Missionary, for he was a Stranger to the Place; and what is not usual for a Stranger, twice ascended that Pulpit in one Day. That his Audience might be the better prepared to receive what he had to say, the Morning was employed in insinuating the Dignity of his Calling, and teaching his Hearers, that implicitly to believe what was taught by orthodox Priests, was the ready Way to Heaven. This was an excellent Foundation to build upon, and such a Position once laid down, what might not be advanced? His Afternoon’s Text was, If I say the Truth, why do ye not believe me? And in his Introduction he told the Audience, that his Words might much better be applied to Christians now-a-days, than to the Jews of old; and coming to shew the Cause of our Unfaithfulness, he attributed it to Ignorance and the Prejudice of Education, or to the Sanctity and Sublimity of the Gospel. That he might have the more Time to dwell upon his second Head, he soon went through the first, and in a Trice dispatched all Kinds of Dissenters promiscuously to Hell. In his second Part he introduced, I really cannot tell you how, but introduce he did, the then Bishop of Bangor; for, as I before observed, he never escaped the Censure of such Men as these, who always honour him with their Reproaches; for the Revilings and Scoffs of wicked Men are always an Encomium to the Just and Pious.
The Danger of the Church was a worn-out Cant, and therefore he determined to try what Effect the Danger of Religion in general could have on the Minds of sober and well-disposed People. To this End he took care to insinuate, and that grosly too, that every Man in Power was little better than an Atheist, when such heterodox Men were raised to the Prelature; but lest there should be some of the Bishop’s Friends present, who were not to be taken with such an Example, he went on to shew us how in the Days of old, when Piety flourished, Persecution was deemed a Christian Virtue, and that the Arians were openly branded and punished; but that there now was no pious Man in Authority, for there was no Inquisition established to punish Deists and Free-Thinkers, and to rack such heterodox Wretches as pretended to expose the Ministers of the Gospel in so scandalous a manner as the Independent Whig had done. But this is a Subject, which for some particular Reasons I shall chuse to drop.
I would not have you think that I strain or wrest the Meaning of this Preacher; I do not indeed tell you that these were his very Words, but I can assur you they were the Sense of them, and not only under derstood so by myself, but by several Persons of Worth and Honour who were there present; nor can I have forgot what was then said, though now very near two Years ago; for there was something so remarkable in the Sermon, that I that very Evening took Notes of it, to which on this Occasion I have had Recourse.
As I do not in the least question but that this Letter will be communicated to some of your Tory Acquaintance, I would be beforehand with them, and answer an Objection which I am certain they will make, to wit, that in so large a Body of Men ’tis impossible they should all be good; but that we ought not to cast a Reflection upon the Clergy for three or four Sermons; for, say they, your Correspondent has quoted no more. True, I have not, though I can say I have heard a great many more of the same Nature, but durst not trust my Memory so far as to cite them, lest I should commit an Error, and wrong any Person; and indeed after having been scandalized with these and several other virulent Libels, I always took Care beforehand to enquire into the Character of the Preacher, and never expose myself to the Hearing of false Doctrines delivered from a Place so sacred. But notwithstanding this, I am afraid Jacobitism has been too often favoured by those who stile themselves Christ’s Ambassadors, nor have they yet done with the Topic, witness the late Presentation of the Grand Jury at Winchester.
Besides these, a vast Number of them came Volunteers into the Service, and very artfully spread the Poison amongst the honest well-meaning Part of the People; for such generally are the Frequenters of our Charity Sermons, whose Design in coming to Church at those Times is to bestow their Mite towards the Education of poor needy Children and forsaken Orphans; but lest some of them should resent whatever might be advanced reflecting on the Government, our common known Preachers would not venture at such a Thing, but some itinerant ones came and offered their Service; Country Curates, most of them, I suppose, who, safe in their own native Obscurity, came up to Town; conceited and ambitious, thought Preferment their due, vented their Spleen against the Ministry, because they were not preferred, and did all that in them lay to stir up the People, then trembling at the Thoughts of what they had done, hurried down in the Country again, and were never heard of more. I need not dwell upon this Article, the Truth of it is sufficiently known, and such Men were too frequently made use of to raise the Seeds of Discontent in the Minds of their Hearers, and to pave the Way for an Invasion.
I would not by any thing I have here advanced, be thought to reflect on the whole Body of the Clergy; Heaven forbid! that for the Crimes of some, I should condemn all. I know there are a great Number of them, who tread as closely as they can in the Steps of the Primitive Christians, and not meddling with the Kingdom of this World, strive to inculcate Piety and Morality, and sound Doctrine in their Audience; whilst others, truly zealous for the Church and Protestant Religion, engage their Adversaries, and without much Difficulty convince the Impartial, that this Church and Religion is much more secure at present, than it would be under a Popish Prince.
Whilst the Reverend Zealots in this Cause were thus taken up, Means were thought of for seducing the very Vulgar and the Scum of Mankind, Fellows unfit for any thing but heading a Mob, or Heel-piecing a Shoe; and as Sermons were above their Sphere, they must be amused in their favourite Alehouses or respective Stalls; for this End, Numbers of seditious Ballads were printed, and sung about the Streets. How greedily did the deluded Mob suck in the Poison, when the Praises of pretty Jemmy were chaunted; and the listening Wretches were encouraged, they say, by the surrounding Wenches, who, as I have been informed, upon a solemn Promise that they would be true to the Cause, often granted them the Favour; for our Filles de Joye have ever been very zealous for the Chevalier, whom, with his Followers, they constantly remember in their Prayers, and whom they are fully determined to stand by to the last.
The mentioning of treasonable Ballads, publickly sung in the Streets, will perhaps surprize you; but I can assure you, that nothing was more frequent here one while, and which the Records of Bridewell and the Work-house will still justify; several of them having been committed there by some worthy Magistrates of the City, who were resolved to put a Stop to this growing Evil, but in vain; they were of the Hydra Nature, and one was no sooner taken off, but two started up in its room; and this Method was constantly practised whilst they had Hopes left, and there was any Spirit remaining in the Party; such doubtless was the Encouragement given to these petty Retailers of Treason.
I will not trouble you with any farther Retrospects, but proceed directly to the Time when the grand Business was to have been brought upon the Stage, and that was at the Election of a new Parliament. As to what foreign Correspondence was carrying on at that Time, what Application made to Potentates for a Supply, what Schemes projected among themselves, and things of this Nature, I must refer you to the Report and Appendix, which I now send you, and in which you will find all the dark Designs and hellish Contrivances of the blackest of Traitors, traced out and unravelled by a wise and sagacious Committee of the Honourable House of Commons; who have not more distinguished themselves by the prudent Choice of such a Committee, than the Committee distinguished themselves by their indefatigable Pains and deep Penetration. And indeed to this Report most of your Friends are indebted for the Share of Reason they at present enjoy; it thoroughly convinced them of their Errors, and they have not been ashamed to own it; even your old Crony Mr. ———, who was always the loudest in ridiculing the Plot, not only in Company, but in all Places, has very frankly recanted, and that in a public manner too, and ingenuously confessed, that no Man in his Senses could read the Report, and doubt the Truth of the Plot.
It was on all hands believed, and by the Jacobites entirely depended upon, that while the several Counties, Towns, and Boroughs of this Kingdom were proceeding in the Choice of Representatives in a new Parliament, his Majesty would make a Tour to his German Dominions; and what time so proper for their Undertaking as when the King was absent, and we had no Parliament? and therefore now or never the grand Work was to be done.
The very Day the Parliament was dissolved, which, to the best of my Remembrance, was the 10th of March, the Heads of the Party got together, and, in order to amuse the People, and see what Numbers they could raise on Occasion, ventured to make some Bonefires, imitating the Rejoicings which were made at the Dissolution of Oliver’s Rump Parliament; and our Streets rung with the Cries of the Hawkers, who were dispersing the last Will and Testament of the old deceased Parliament, the Character of the Rump Parliament, &c. But on this Occasion none exerted themselves with such undaunted Impudence as the Freeholder; who, I think, had not made his Appearance in the World above six Weeks before, and therefore for what Purpose set up we may easily imagine. He had, from his first coming out, dealt in very bitter Invectives, but the Moment the Parliament was dissolved, he gave an unbounded Loose. I would not willingly repeat any - thing after him that should give Offence, but, as I suppose, this Paper was confined to the Town, and probably never reached you, I’ll give you a Paragraph, and that one of the modestest too, published in the first Paper, which came out after the Proclamation, and in which he gives, at least as he pretends, an Account of whatever was transacted by the late Parliament.
‘The second and third Sessions, says he, had nothing remarkable in them but the Act for a general Indemnity, and the Tryal of the Lord Oxford, which was the only Case but one wherein the two Houses differed during so long Continuance: and if they had differed in some more material Points, others, perhaps, might have escaped Misery as well as that noble Lord. They likewise passed a famous Act, to qualify his Majesty to be Governor of the South Sea Company, without taking the Oaths necessary for that Office; and another against wearing Cloth Buttons.’
I must take notice of one Thing more in the same Paper, and that is his Observation upon the repealing of the Schism Bill. This zealous Churchman, fond of Persecution, endeavours to represent one of the most glorious, most charitable, and most Christian-like Acts of that Parliament, as a Thing prejudicial to the Church, nay to the Protestant Religion: But take his own Words. ‘These Laws made by one Parliament for the Security of the Protestant Religion, were, by another Parliament repealed, for the Security of the Protestant Interest.’
I have already told you, that I would not repeat any of those Passages which had given Offence; and if these are his modest Expressions, you may easily guess what the others must be: And yet, when the Printer was brought to his Tryal, it was insinuated by the Party to be a Breach of the Liberty of the Subject, who was no longer now allowed to complain of his Grievances; that it was for siding with the Church Party, with a great deal of Common-place Cant of the same Nature. And now I mention the Prosecution against him, I suppose you’ll be curious to know what Punishment he met with; he was tried and convicted, but not yet sentenced.
I would have Men, who have met with such Mildness and undeserved Mercy, seriously reflect on what they might have expected, had they been guilty of libelling a Government any where amongst our Neighbours; and that I may not be thought to quote the severest, I would only have them imagine, that they did the same thing at Paris: If they do not know what Fate they might have expected there, I can easily inform them; they would have gone, with all their Abettors, to the Bastile, and never have seen the Day-light more till they had been removed to Grave-Square, there on a Wheel or Gibbet to have ended their Days. But I am digressing from my Purpose.
The Conspirators here having, in vain, applied themselves to several foreign Potentates for Assistance to carry on their treasonable Designs, resolved now to venture upon their own Strength; and, as I before observed, thought no Time so favourable as that of the Elections, when Mobs and Riots are too frequent. How restless their Endeavours were, we are all very sensible; the repeated Cries which were every where heard, of No Septennial Parliament (a Word that was made Use of as a Bugbear to frighten and biass the People) the repeated Huzzas of Down with the Rumps, often mixed with the Shouts of High Church and Ormond for ever! plainly demonstrate, that there were too many whose whole Time was employed in seducing and deluding the Vulgar: and I wish to God some of the Clergy had not a considerable Share in all these Disturbances, especially as you will find observed in the Report, that the two most riotous Elections of any throughout the Kingdom, were that of Westminster, a Place under the immediate Influence of the Bishop of Rochester, and that of Coventry, which appears to have been animated by Carte, a Nonjuring Clergyman, an Agent of the Bishop’s, and one employed by him in managing his treasonable Correspondence.
But as a Mob was not of itself sufficient to bring the mighty Work to bear, Money was raised here in England, partly, I suppose, given by those who most impatiently longed to see their Country involved in Blood and Ruin, the other Part lent upon the Chevalier’s Notes; and with these Sums, Ships were provided, such as the Revolution, and some others yet untaken, and some hired here in England; and the late Duke of Ormond, with a great Number of Officers, and large Quantities of Arms and Ammunition, was to have come over and headed the Enterprize.
But we now see that we had a wise and vigilant Ministry, who had nothing at heart but the Service of their King, and the Good of their Fellow-Subjects, who denied themselves Rest that they might give it to their Country, and were perpetually labouring to procure Ease to others. How indefatigably they countermined every Measure of the Conspirators, the Event sufficiently witnesses; and that with such Prudence, that the Conspirators never mistrusted that their Designs were betrayed. How were they surprized to see every Step they took prove a wrong Step, their Intentions abortive, and all their Projects miscarry! Little they thought that the Ministers, like so many Guardian Angels of the Land were perpetually watching for its Welfare, turned the Edge of their Arrows, and diverted the threatening Fate. In short, they had the Mortification to see all the Elections of England over without having been able to strike a Stroke; and what was a double Mortification to them, began to be pretty well assured, that their restless Endeavours were all in vain, and that we had a Parliament returned to whom our Liberties and the Protestant Interest were equally dear.
If I may presume to dive into the Secrets of those who are at the Helm of Affairs, I am apt to imagine, that they did believe all these Disappointments, joined together, would intirely damp the Jacobite Party, and make them sit down contented with the Enjoyment of what they willingly would, but could not, deprive themselves of; but such was the Infatuation of these Wretches, they were not to be baulked. One would have thought them something of the Nature of the Tyrant Antæus, and if from every Fall they did not gather new Strength, at least they did new Rage; which grew to such a Height from their last Disappointment, that it was thought unsafe to conceal it any longer, and Preparations must be made to repel their desperate Rage by open Force. Accordingly on Monday the 7th of May 1722, a Camp was marked out in Hyde-Park, to which the Troops of his Majesty’s Houshold marched the next and following Days. All Officers were ordered to repair to their respective Commands; Lieutenant-General Macartney was dispatched to Ireland, to bring over some Troops from thence into the West of England, and Instructions were sent to Mr. Horace Walpole, who some few Days before went over to Holland, to desire the States to keep the Guaranty Troops in a Readiness to be transported to England; for his Majesty was very tender of putting his Subjects to any more Charges than what were absolutely necessary for their own Security; and therefore he would not bring over the Dutch Forces, till it should be unsafe to delay it any longer. And his Majesty was pleased to give Notice of the Conspiracy to the Lord Mayor, thereby to prevent any Tumult in the City.
Whitehall,May 8, 1722.
HIS Majesty having nothing more at Heart than the Peace and Safety of his good City of London, the Protection of its Inhabitants, and the Support of public Credit; has commanded me to acquaint your Lordship, that he has received repeated and unquestionable Advices, that several of his Subjects, forgetting the Allegiance they owe to his Majesty, as well as the natural Love they ought to bear to their Country, have entered into a wicked Conspiracy, in concert with Traytors abroad, for raising a Rebellion in this Kingdom in favour of a Popish Pretender, with a traiterous Design to overthrow our excellent Constitution both in Church and State, and to subject a Protestant free People to Tyranny and Superstition: But I am persuaded, that it will be a great Satisfaction to your Lordship and the City to find, that at the same time that I am ordered to inform you of this Design, I am likewise commanded by his Majesty to let you know, that he is firmly assured, that the Authors of it neither are, nor will be supported, nor even countenanced by any foreign Power. And as his Majesty has had timely Notice of their wicked Machinations, and has made the proper Dispositions for defeating them, he has no Reason to doubt, but, by the Continuance of the Blessing of Almighty God, and the ready Assistance of his faithful Subjects, this Effort of the Malice of his Enemies will be turned to their own Confusion.
His Majesty makes no doubt but your Lordship, pursuant to the Trust reposed in you, will, in Conjunction with the other Magistrates of his good City of London, exert, with the utmost Care and Vigilance, your Authority, at so important a Conjuncture, for the Preservation of the public Peace, and the Security of the City. I am, &c.
The next Day his Majesty in Council was pleased to sign and order a Proclamation forthwith to be published, for putting the Laws in Execution against Papists and Nonjurors, and for commanding all Papists, and reputedPapists, to depart from the Cities of London and Westminster, and from within ten Miles of the same; and for confining Papists, and reputed Papists, to their Habitations, and for putting in Execution the Laws against Riots and Rioters.
The Conspirators, who were always upon the Watch to gather some Advantage, if possible, even from every Disappointment, took this Opportunity to spread several Reports detrimental to public Credit, and those amongst them who had any Money in the Bank began a Run upon it; and South Sea Stock, which at that time was about 90, fell to about 77: And by these Means they hoped to spread new Discontents amongst the People, especially amongst the unhappy Sufferers in this Company; but this Design also miscarried, and in some Days Stock gradually rose till it reached its former Value.
But still the Party had some Hopes left, or rather were resolved to attempt something for their Cause; and in this they were the more encouraged by the Death of the Duke of Marlborough, who died at Windsor on the 16th of June, about four in the Morning; and as they were satisfied that he must have a magnificent Burial, at which there would be a vast Concourse of People, they thought it might be a very proper Time for putting their Design in Execution, and we are told that they had accordingly taken Measures for this Purpose; but the Burial was not on the appointed Day, and the deferring of it, once more disappointed their Projects.
The last time they fixed was at the breaking up of the Camp; to which End they had taken Care to corrupt some of the old Serjeants, and were endeavouring to corrupt as many more Veterans as they possibly could; but this Attempt you will find much more particularly related in Layer’s Tryal, which I have already sent you, and in the Report, which you will receive with this Letter.
That you may read the Appendix with much more Ease than I have done, I have herein inclosed you an Explanation of all the fictitious Names made use of by the Conspirators, that you may at once see who are the Persons meant, without being obliged to turn over to the Report, in which they are explained.
I am afraid that I have been something tedious in the narrative Part of my Epistle, and therefore, without detaining you any longer, I’ll just take Notice of the present State of our Affairs, and answer some of the Cries which are often heard amongst the disaffected and deluded Part of the Nation.
Although we may, from the Measures which have been taken to prevent the intended Stroke of the Conspirators, hope that we now are safe, yet ought we not to rest too secure, and thereby give our Enemies an Opportunity of compassing their Ends. Their Endeavours, we find, are restless: George Kelly had been taken up on Suspicion of treasonable Practices, he was bailed out; you see the first Use he makes of his Liberty is to settle a new Key of fictitious Names with his Correspondents abroad, and the very Moment that, by the Indulgence of our Constitution, he had got out of Custody, he employed the Liberty he had recovered to subvert that Constitution by which he had obtained it. Nor is he the only Example I can quote; after the imprisoning of the Chiefs of this Design, they could not give over, and Mackintosh was seized at Gravesend, as he was coming here to form new Schemes, in Conjunction with the yet undiscovered Traitors.
But, say you, when the Chiefs are seized, and all their Projects countermined, what Need have we of an Addition of Forces? of what Service is an Army when our Enemies are defeated? New Taxes must surely be laid, in order to make a Provision for an additional four thousand Men, and this is what the generality of the People so loudly complain of; and I suppose you would go farther, and say, Are our Liberties and Properties intirely safe, whilst there are such Numbers of Forces on Foot?
Look a little backwards, and reflect on the loud Clamours which were lately made against a Standing Army, and to bear a Part in which we also were drawn. What was the Aim of the Jacobites in all this? To get the Army disbanded, which, if done, they had certainly compassed our Ruin, and subverted our Constitution, and we should not only have lost all that was dear and valuable, but should have been perpetually cursed with the tormenting Reflection, that we ourselves had contributed all that in us lay to our Ruin, and vigorously assisted the Conspirators in the Completion of it.
I allow you, indeed, that a great Number of their Chiefs are taken up, and thereby, one would think, incapacitated to do further Mischief; but are we therefore safe? I wish I could say we were; but you will find by the Report, that a great many were engaged in the criminal Correspondence, whose Names are not yet discovered, and who, perhaps, are capable of doing the greatest Mischief. The Example of those two I have just above quoted, sufficiently convinces us how restless the Faction is, and spite of all the Vigilance of their Guards, there are those of greater Distinction than Kelly or Mackintosh, who, even from their Prison, have sown the Seeds of Discord; who, under all Adversities, take Care to keep up the Spirit of their Party, and with their Blessings endeavour to curse the Nation. Nor ought we ever to rest secure, and without Apprehension, whilst there are such turbulent Spirits as an Alberoni or Francisco living. It is a Catholic Cause they are carrying on, and therefore the Number of our General Officers ought to answer that of the Roman Conclave, and we should at least keep as many Soldiers on Foot as there are Jesuits abroad.
But if you seriously consider the Charges which must arise from the keeping up these additional Forces, you will find them to be much less than you perhaps at first imagined. Here are no Officers of any kind to be provided for, but such a Number of private Men who are incorporated into the old Regiments. And at the very first opening of the Parliament, when the carrying on of a Conspiracy was declared from the Throne, his Majesty did not from hence take Occasion to ask for large Supplies, as ancient Stories say has been often practised; far from it, he directed the Commons, who doubtless would raise Money sufficient for the Defence of the Nation, to order the Provisions they should make for defraying the Expences which the treasonable Practices of our Enemies had put us to, with such Frugality as very little to exceed the Supplies of the last Year. And indeed such Measures are now taking, that it is to be hoped our Catholics will be obliged to pay the Charges of their Catholic Plot.
But suppose the Expences had been much greater, suppose that they had all fallen upon us, are then our Liberties of so little Value that they are not worth our being at some Charges to preserve them? Have so much Blood, and so many Millions been spent, since the Revolution, in the Defence of our excellent Constitution, and shall we at once destroy the Work of thirty-five Years, rather than add a few thousands to the already disbursed Sums? Or shall we lose all that we have, rather than give an inconsiderable Part of it to secure the rest? For Shame, after having been so zealous in this Cause for so many Years, and engaged in so many prudent Undertakings, don’t let us slacken at once, and act like Madmen. If we must bow to the Yoke, we had much better have done it at once, and all our Resistance would serve only to sharpen the Resentment of Popish Zealots, and our former Endeavours after Happiness increase our Misery.
The other Objection, though not mentioned by you, I have often heard from several deluded People, and very well know you mean it: I know it, because I have several times inconsiderably asked the Question myself, Whether we could depend upon our Liberties and Properties being entirely safe, whilst there are such Numbers of Forces on Foot¿
I have already answered the latter Part of this Question, to wit, that our Standing Army is not greater than what is absolutely necessary for our Defence; but suppose it considerable enough to inslave us, suppose (tho’ there be not the least Ground for such a Supposition) that we had Reason to apprehend his Majesty designed to make himself absolute, shall we therefore clamour for the disbanding of the Army, and make ourselves an easy Prey for the Pretender and his Faction? If we do, we are sure of having one bred up in the Notions of absolute Monarchy, Tyranny, and Persecution. We shall not be a Monarch’s Slaves, but a Slave’s Slaves, for such he is to Priests and Jesuits. A holy Office of Inquisition would soon be established, before whose dread Tribunal we must all appear; Church Lands must be restored to Popish Priests; we should see the Scum of Mankind wallowing in Riches, aud lording it over their Betters, with all the haughty Insolence of Churchmen, whilst we must crouch beneath their Feet, and never presume to contradict or question one Syllable of what they say; for certain as we do, we should be hurried to a Bishop’s Dungeon, or Inquisition Prison, there to pine on Bread and Water, and ever now and then to taste the Torments of a Rack, till, out of Compassion to our Sufferings, the merciful Priests should condescend to put an End to our Pains, by exposing us to the Crowd on a Wheel, or exalted Gibbet, as Traitors to God and his holy Ambassadors, and Blasphemers against his Word, thereby to deter the rest of Mankind from presuming to offend a Priest.
Were we, on the other hand, to be subdued by his present Majesty, were he to gain an absolute Power over us, we should still be governed by the Temporal Arm; which, compared to the Ecclesiastic, is Liberty indeed. We should have on the Throne a Prince, whose Laws would be absolute, but whose Will is mild; who, though truly pious, is not to be Priest-ridden, or swayed by superstitious Fears: A Monarch whose Principles make him averse to Persecution, and whose Fault (if I may presume to charge him with any) is a Temper too much inclined to Mercy; of which we have had so many, and such conspicuous Examples, that ’twould be needless to quote any. Had he been less compassionate, this Conspiracy would not probably ever have been formed; doubtless several of the Chief would have been taken off at the Time of the Preston Rebellion, and the ungrateful Wretches would not have had it in their Power to have attempted against the Life of a Prince, to whose Mercy they owe their own.
But, thank Heaven, we have not the least Reason, the least Grounds to apprehend any such thing. What Attempts have been made towards it? Whose Properties has his Majesty seized upon? What Alteration has he made in our Religion? Whom has he persecuted? Whose Heritage has he plundered, and whom has he unjustly put to Death? Far from it, he has always been tender of the Liberty of the Subject, has always shunned the least Occasion of giving us any Umbrage. When the Bill for better preserving us from the Plague, and for building Barracks, was passed and signed, what Prince but himself would have parted with the extensive Power given him in it? and yet when his Majesty was informed that his Subjects were uneasy at it, when he had seriously considered and found that the Power given him there might touch their Liberties, if he pleased to make an ill Use of it, how readily did he give it up! the Parliament had another Sessions chiefly for the Repeal of that Bill, and it was at the Desire of his Majesty, and by the Interest of his Ministry, that it was repealed.
When a Man has ignorantly been led into wrong Measures, the best, the wisest, the most honourable thing he can do, as soon as he opens his Eyes, is to abandon his wicked Companions, and, as much as in him lies, to make Atonement for the Mischief he may have done. This at present is our Case; the Monkey has too long made use of the Cat’s Paw: By artfully spreading the Poison amongst us, they have made us the loudest in the Clamours raised against the best of Kings, and the wisest of Ministers. But e’er yet it be too late, let us convince them, that we tread in their dangerous Footsteps only whilst we are hood-winked, and that having recovered the Light of Reason, we all unanimously join against the common Enemies of our Country, of our Religion, and of our Liberties; and that we will never bow down our Necks to a bigotted Fugitive, or court the Yoke of Superstition and Slavery. We were upon the Brink of Ruin, and just ready to throw ourselves down the Precipice; but let the Danger of the Fall, and the Horror which presents itself before our Eyes, warn us, whilst yet ’tis time, to fly the Destruction which would inevitably attend us.
As for those infatuated Wretches, with whom solid Argument has no Weight, who shut their Eyes lest they should see, or who are obstinately bent to pursue their destructive Purposes, let such, if they won’t give themselves Time to reflect on their own Ruin, but for a Moment consider what they entail upon their Posterity, and I dare say it will fright them into Reason, and shock them into Understanding: Beggary, Ignorance, and Slavery will be the undoubted Portion of their Children, and they may account themselves happy if they are allowed to enjoy these unmolested.
The Noble ought to consider that he will soon be upon a Level with the very Scum of the World; for besides protecting Cardinals, Confessors, and such like People, who often rise from the Dunghill, let him turn his Eyes upon the mock Monarch’s Court, and see Titles conferred upon base-born Beggars, Persons adorned with Robes and Garters, who were born to Liveries and Shoulder-knots, zealous Persecutors made Prime Ministers, and unskilled Attornies at once leaping into the Chancellor’s Seat. Let our Commoners remember, that they must never more expect to represent their Country; for what has an absolute Monarch to do with Parliaments? Their Estates will be taken from them to reward those who, in the worst of Times, as they call it, have been true to his Cause; or suppose they should not, all the Church Lands, which are half the Lands of the Kingdom, must be restored; and of what remains, twenty Shillings in the Pound would not suffice to pay the Interest of the Chevalier’s Debts. The Merchant, who has ventured his Life, and all his Wealth upon the tempestuous Seas, returning home, must, after the Example of some of our Neighbours, unlade his Treasure in the Royal Storehouses, and be content with what Part of it his Monarch pleases to give him. The Soldier must rest at home in inglorious Ease, and if there be a War, must see fawning Cowards enjoy those Places of Honour which are due to his Valour, for such doubtless would be his Favourites. What else can be expected from one, who when he had an Army more numerous than that by which he was opposed, and had not a single Foot of Land to stake against three Kingdoms, yet would not draw a Sword, or venture one Combat, for the glorious Prize? And what Man of true Valour would fight for such a one?
Let a Man of Learning consider, that in such Days Learning would be a capital Crime, and that nothing less than Fire and Faggot would be the Reward of one who would pretend to understand the Scriptures, or to have them by him in his Mother-Tongue. Let the Oppressed, and those who would seek Protection under a Monarch’s Wing, reflect, what Compassion, what paternal Love he could have for his People, who has none for his Child; an Infant who never was capable of offending him, but whom he would have exposed* to the Rage of a Civil War, that he might have continued safe at home.
Is there a Man truly devout, or that has one Grain of Religion in him, that will stand up for one bred in Italian Superstition, or a true Englishman, who desires a King nursed up in French Politics? The Man who really loves his Country and Fellow-subjects, cannot want to see them governed by one, who has all his Life-time been taught to look upon them as Traitors.
But here is another Set of People, amongst whom I could heartily wish that there were none in this Interest, because their Influence over the Minds of the People is very great; I mean our Clergy. I will not pretend to point out any particular Persons amongst them, and if I do suspect any, I heartily wish I may wrong them; but if there be any such, how great must their Infatuation be? Can they pretend to be Ministers of God’s Word, and want to see that Word abolished? for such in effect it would be, and its Place usurped by human Tradition. Can they stile themselves zealous Protestants, and want to put themselves under the Government of a Romish Bigot? Can they cry out, that the Church is in Danger, and yet endeavour to bring in a Papist to rescue and defend her; the very Fundamentals of whose Religion teach him, that ’tis his Duty to destroy it, and believes that neglecting an Opportunity of doing it would be Damnation eternal.
What End therefore can any mistaken Reverend Zealot propose to himself in an Attempt of this Nature? his Interest probably; for, say they, the Church Lands would then be restored to us. True, they would be restored, but not to them. The Chevalier would bring over Priests enough to take double Possession of all our Livings, were the Number of them double, and the abounding Convents would swarm with preaching Monks and Jesuits; but not a Member of the Church of England must expect any Preferment, not even if they should renounce their own Religion, and embrace the Catholic. Indeed, should there happen to be some petty Cure, unworthy the Acceptance of an old staunch Believer, the Proselyte might hope to come in for it; but that’s the highest he must ever aim at.
To convince them that this is not a new-started Notion, I will take the Liberty of quoting a Fact which happened in the Year 853, with the Opinion of the Ecclesiastics of those Days, relating to the Usage they must expect from a Prince of a different Persuasion, The Story is this, ‘Amand, King of Sweden, having, by his tyrannical Government, justly enraged his Subjects against him, they rose and drove him out of the Kingdom, and called in Olaus, a pious Prince, to reign in his stead. This Olaus being converted to the Christian Faith by Ansgarius, afterwards Bishop of Bremen, took care that this Doctrine should be preached in his Dominions, and to that End called in some few Priests, whom he took under his Protection, and, who settling at Upsal, formed a Convent, or kind of little University.
‘Mean while the Heathens of that City began loudly to inveigh against the Christians, as having interrupted their Sacrifices (for they had a miraculous Idol at Upsal, to which they were wont to sacrifice human Creatures) and the Minds of the Superstitious were poisoned with the Danger of their Religion, tho’ no Force had ever been used to make them embrace the Christian Faith. The Agents of Amand took Care to foment these Discontents, and managed their Affairs so very dextrously, that they at last won over even those infatuated Priests to their Party, who blindly embracing the Notion of Amand’s being their lawful Sovereign, preached up the Doctrine of Hereditary and Indefeasible Right. At length, but too late, they opened their Eyes, and saw their Folly; then it was they would willingly have atoned for past Crimes; and thoroughly convinced of their Error, they presented a Kind of Address to Olaus, to the Sense of which I have directly kept close, though I have somewhat altered the barbarous Phrase, and dressed it up in a modern Stile,’
To his Highness Prince Olaus, King of the Swedes and Goths; The humble Address of the Ecclesiastics residing at Upsal, under the Protection of his Highness.
REflecting on our former Crimes, ’tis with Shame and Confusion we approach the Throne of your Highness; but if a sincere Repentance, and a hearty Resolution of Amendment can make us find Grace in your Sight, none of your rebelling Subjects shall be better intitled to your Pardon. We confess, Great Sir, that we have endeavoured the Subversion of your Government, and joining with your Enemies, have used our utmost Arts to bring in a bigotted Pretender. Strange Infatuation! that we should have been so blind to Reason, to the Dictates of Religion, and to our own Interest! for had we compassed our Ends, what could we have proposed to ourselves? How ridiculous is it to think that a Heathen Tyrant would protect the Christian Faith, or that he would maintain us in the Enjoyment of the Property which your Highness has bestowed upon us. Far from it, our holy Scriptures would have been trampled upon, the Priests of the Idol would have taken Possession of what we now have, and all that we could hope, for having been instrumental in settling the Crown upon the Tyrant’s Head, would be the Favour of being the last sacrificed to the Idol,
Full of these Sentiments we beg Leave to approach your Highness, and to assure you, that our future Doctrines shall, in some measure, atone for our past. We have indeed usurped a Province which in no wise belonged to us, and neglecting the Business of true Pastors, and the Concern of Souls, we have busied our Heads with Politics, and taken upon us to act as Ministers of State; a Fault which we never more would be guilty of, did we not in Conscience think ourselves obliged to set the Minds of those People to rights, whom we have led astray, and to remove the dangerous Notions which we have inculcated in the Youth committed to our Care. This done, we will always content ourselves with preaching the pure Christian Faith, and carefully instructing your Subjects in it, always remembring that we have nothing to do with the Kingdom of this World.
The Hopes we have of being intirely freed from those who shall prove actually guilty, is no small Joy to the Well-wishers of the Government. Layer, who has been a principal Agent in the Conspiracy, you know, lies under Sentence of Death; and as, ’tis said, that he has not been very ingenuous in his Confession, ’tis generally believed that he will at last be executed. Plunket has been found guilty, and he will be imprisoned during the Pleasure of his Majesty, his Heirs and Successors, and ’tis made Felony for him to attempt to escape, or for any one to assist him in such an Attempt, and what he has is confiscated, Kelly’s Fate is the same; and the Bishop, ’tis probable, will be deprived of his Ecclesiastical Revenues, and banished.
There are some who love to make a Noise at every Measure that is taken against Conspirators, and therefore ’tis no Wonder that proceeding against him, by way of Bill, should be clamoured at, though it was the Method those very Persons would lately have had used against the South Sea Directors. I know that you are well versed in old Law-Cases, and therefore I will not trouble you with the many Precedents that former Reigns have furnished us with, of Proceedings in this Manner; and indeed it is very necessary, that extraordinary Steps should sometimes be taken in Cases of Treason, without which a Nation never will be safe. I will not say that our Laws are deficient, but in some Cases they are too tender; and it is very possible for Wretches to compass and imagine the Ruin of their King and Country, and yet to screen themselves from what is called a legal Conviction. But in this Case it proves otherwise, and those who have been loudest in their Clamours, against such a Way of Proceeding, have since owned, that there was Evidence enough to convict any of them in a common Court of Justice, and that the Punishment inflicted on them was too small for their Crimes.
I will not trouble you any farther. I hope by this time that you are pretty well convinced, that we have too long been in Error; and do not let Pity for those, who would have shewn you none, move your Heart: Or, to arm your Mind with Resentment against Traitors, remember that, if you can forget the Injury that might be intended to you in particular, a British Soul ought never to forgive an Attempt to ruin his Country. ’Tis not our Cause only, but the glorious Cause of LIBERTY that we fight. LIBERTY, in the Defence of which so much Blood has already been shed, such Sums have been spent; LIBERTY, which if we could not procure for ourselves, would be cheap bought for our Posterity with the Loss of our Lives; without which, Grandeur is nothing more than golden Fetters, Riches Beggary, and Life a State far worse than Death. But I need not dwell any longer upon this Subject, to one who knows the Value of it so very well, whose Birth and Principles have long since inculcated that old Roman Maxim in him, That Slavery is worse than Death, and that to live is to be free. I am,