An abridgment of the History of England: from the invasion of Julius Cæsar, to the death of George II. By Dr. Goldsmith. — History of England.




Isaac Taylor del et sculp

Britannia trampling on the Badges of Superstition & Slavery: Rests her History &c. on the Basis of Liberty.

Publiſhed by G. Kearsley in Fleet Street as the Act directs July 2.d 1774



LONDON, Printed for G. KEARSLEY, No. 46, Fleet-ſtreet. MDCCLXXIV.



1.1. CHAP. I. Of BRITAIN, from the Invaſion of Julius Caeſar to the Abdication of the Romans.

BRITAIN was but very little known to the reſt of the world before the time of the Romans. The coaſts oppoſite Gaul were frequented by merchants who traded thither for ſuch commodities as the natives were able to produce. Theſe, it is thought, after a time poſſeſſed themſelves of all the maritime places where they had at firſt been permitted to reſide. There, finding the country fertile, and commodiouſly ſituated for trade, they ſettled upon the ſea-ſide, and introduced the practice of agriculture. But it was very different with the inland inhabitants of the country, who conſidered themſelves as the lawful poſſeſſors of the ſoil. Theſe avoided all [Page 2] correſpondence with the new comers, whom they conſidered as intruders upon their property.

The inland inhabitants are repreſented as extremely numerous, living in cottages thatched with ſtraw, and feeding large herds of cattle. They lived moſtly upon milk, or fleſh procured by the chace. What cloaths they wore to cover any part of their bodies, were uſually the ſkins of beaſts; but much of their bodies, as the arms, legs, and thighs, was left naked, and thoſe parts were uſually painted blue. Their hair, which was long, flowed down upon their backs and ſhoulders, while their beards were kept cloſe ſhaven, except upon the upper lip, where it was ſuffered to grow. The dreſs of ſavage nations is every where pretty much the ſame, being calculated rather to inſpire terror than to excite love or reſpect.

As to their government, it conſiſted of ſeveral ſmall principalities, each under its reſpective leader; and this ſeems to be the earlieſt mode of dominion with which mankind are acquainted, and deduced from the natural privileges of paternal authority. Upon great, or uncommon dangers, a commander in chief was choſen by common conſent, in a general aſſembly; and to him was committed the conduct of the general intereſt, the power of making peace, or leading to war.

Their forces conſiſted chiefly of foot, and yet they could bring a conſiderable number of horſe into the field upon great occaſions. They likewiſe uſed chariots in battle, which, with ſhort ſcythes faſtened to the ends of the axle-trees, inflicted terrible wounds, ſpreading terror and devaſtation whereſoever they drove. Nor while the chariots were thus deſtroying, were the warriors who conducted them unemployed. Theſe darted their javelins againſt the enemy, ran along the beam, leapt on the ground, reſumed their ſeat, ſtopt, or turned their horſes at full ſpeed, and [Page 3] ſometimes cunningly retreated, to draw the enemy into confuſion.

The religion of the Britons was one of the moſt conſiderable parts of their government; and the Druids, who were the guardians of it, poſſeſſed great authority among them. No ſpecies of ſuperſtition was ever more terrible than theirs; beſides the ſevere penalties which they were permitted to inflict in this world, they inculcated the eternal tranſmigration of ſouls, and thus extended their authority as far as the fears of their votaries. They ſacrificed human victims, which they burned in large wicker idols, made ſo capacious as to contain a multitude of perſons at once, who were thus conſumed together. To theſe rites, tending to impreſs ignorance with awe, they added the auſterity of their manners, and the ſimplicity of their lives. They lived in woods, caves, and hollow trees; their food was acorns and berries, and their drink water; by theſe arts, they were not only reſpected, but almoſt adored by the people.

It may be eaſily ſuppoſed, that the manners of the people took a tincture from the diſcipline of their teachers. Their lives were ſimple, but they were marked with cruelty and fierceneſs; their courage was great, but neither dignified by mercy nor perſeverance.

The Britons had long remained in this rude but independent ſtate, when Caeſar having over-run Gaul with his victories, and willing ſtill farther to extend his fame, determined upon the conqueſt of a country that ſeemed to promiſe an eaſy triumph. When the troops deſtined for the expedition were embarked, he ſet ſail for Britain about midnight, and the next morning arrived on the coaſt near Dover, where he ſaw the rocks and cliffs covered with armed men to oppoſe his landing.

The Britons had choſen Caſſibelaunus for their commander in chief, but the petty princes under [Page 4] his command, either deſiring his ſtation, or ſuſpecting his fidelity, threw off their allegiance. Some of them fled with their forces into the internal parts of the kingdom, others ſubmitted to Caeſar, till at length Caffibelaunus himſelf, weakened by ſo many deſertions, reſolved upon making what terms he was able while he yet had power to keep the field. The conditions offered by Caeſar, and accepted by him were, that he ſhould ſend to the continent double the number of hoſtages at firſt demanded, and that he ſhould acknowledge ſubjection to the Romans. Caeſar, however, was obliged to return once more to compel the Britons to compleat their ſtipulated treaty.

Upon the acceſſion of Auguſtus, that emperor had formed a deſign of viſiting Britain, but was diverted from it by an unexpected revolt of the Pannonians.

Tiberius, wiſely judging the empire already too extenſive, made no attempt upon Britain. From that time the natives began to improve in all the arts which contribute to the advancement of human nature.

The wild extravagancies of Caligula, by which he threatened Britain with an invaſion, ſerved rather to expoſe him to ridicule than the iſland to danger. At length the Romans, in the reign of Claudius, began to think ſeriouſly of reducing them under their dominion. The expedition for this purpoſe was conducted in the beginning by Plautius and other commanders, with that ſucceſs which uſually attended the Roman arms.

Caractacus was the firſt who ſeemed willing, by a vigorous effort, to reſcue his country and repel its inſulting and rapacious conquerors. This rude ſoldier, though with inferior forces, continued, for above nine years, to oppoſe and harraſs the Romans; till at length he was totally routed, and taken priſoner by Oſtorius Scapula, who ſent him in triumph to Rome. While Caractacus was leading thro' Rome, [Page 5] he appeared no way dejected at the amazing concourſe of ſpectators that were gathered upon this occaſion, but caſting his eyes on the ſplendours that ſurrounded him, "Alas, cried he, how is it poſſible that a people poſſeſſed of ſuch magnificence at home could envy me an humble cottage in Britain!" The emperor was affected with the Britiſh hero's misfortunes, and won by his addreſs. He ordered him to be unchained upon the ſpot, and ſet at liberty with the reſt of the captives.

The cruel treatment of Boadicea, queen of the Iceni, drove the Britons once more into open rebellion. Praſatagus, king of the Iceni, at his death had bequeathed one-half of his dominions to the Romans, and the other to his daughters, thus hoping by the ſacrifice of a part, to ſecure the reſt in his family: but it had a different effect; for the Roman procurator immediately took poſſeſſion of the whole; and when Boadicea, the widow of the deceaſed, attempted to remonſtrate, he ordered her to be ſcourged like a ſlave, and violated the chaſtity of her daughters. Theſe outrages were ſufficient to produce a revolt throughout the iſland. The Iceni, as being the moſt deeply intereſted in the quarrel, were the firſt to take arms; all the other ſtates ſoon followed the example; and Boadicea, a woman of great beauty and maſculine ſpirit, was appointed to head the common forces, which amounted to two hundred and thirty thouſand fighting men. Theſe, exaſperated by their wrongs, attacked ſeveral of the Roman ſettlements and colonies with ſucceſs. Paulinus, who commanded the Roman forces, haſtened to relieve London, which was already a flouriſhing colony; but found on his arrival that it would be requiſite for the general ſafety to abandon that place to the mercileſs fury of the enemy. London was ſoon therefore reduced to aſhes; ſuch of the inhabitants as remained in it were maſſacred; and the Romans, with all other ſtrangers, [Page 6] to the number of ſeventy thouſand, were cruelly put to the ſword. Fluſhed with theſe ſucceſſes, the Britons no longer ſought to avoid the enemy, but boldly came to the place where Paulinus awaited their arrival, poſted in a very advantageous manner with a body of ten thouſand men. The battle was obſtinate and bloody. Boadicea herſelf appeared in a chariot with her two daughters, and harrangued her army with maſculine intrepidity; but the irregular and undiſciplined bravery of her troops was unable to reſiſt the cool intrepidity of the Romans. They were routed with great ſlaughter, eighty thouſand periſhed in the field, and an infinite number were made priſoners, while Boadicea herſelf, fearing to fall into the hands of the enraged victor, put an end to her life by poiſon.

The general who finally eſtabliſhed the dominion of the Romans in this iſland was Julius Agricola, who governed it during the reigns of Veſpaſian, Titus, and Domitian, and diſtinguiſhed himſelf as well by his courage as humanity.

For ſeveral years after the time of Agricola, a profound peace ſeems to have prevailed in Britain, and little mention is made of the affairs of the iſland by any hiſtorian.

At length, however, Rome, that had for ages given laws to nations, and diffuſed ſlavery and oppreſſion over the known world, at length began to ſink under her own magnificence. Mankind, as if by a general conſent, roſe up to vindicate their natural freedom; almoſt every nation aſſerting that independence which they had been long ſo unjuſtly deprived of.

During theſe ſtruggles the Britiſh youth were frequently drawn away into Gaul, to give ineffectual ſuccour to the various contenders for the empire, who, falling in every attempt, only left the name of tyrants behind them. In the mean time, as the Roman forces decreaſed in Britain, the Picts and Scots continued [Page 7] ſtill more boldly to infeſt the northern parts; and croſſing the friths, which the Romans could not guard, in little wicker boats, covered with leather, filled the country wherever they came with ſlaughter and conſternation.

The Romans, therefore, finding it impoſſible to ſtand their ground in Britain, in the reign of the emperor Valentinian took their laſt leave of the iſland, after being maſters of it for ne [...] four hundred years, and now left the natives to the choice of their own government and kings. They gave them the beſt inſtructions the calamitous times would permit, for exerciſing their arms, and repairing their ramparts, and helped them to erect a-new a wall of ſtone built by the emperor Severus acroſs the iſland, which they had not at that time artizans ſkilful enough among themſelves to repair.


THE Britons being now left to themſelves, conſidered their new liberties as their greateſt calamity.

The Picts and Scots uniting together, began to look upon Britain as their own, and attacked the northern wall which the Romans had built to keep off their incurſions, with ſucceſs. Having thus opened to themſelves a paſſage, they ravaged the whole country with impunity, while the Britons ſought precarious ſhelter in their woods and mountains.

It was in this deplorable and enfeebled ſtate that the Britons had recourſe to the Saxons, a brave people; who, for their ſtrength and valour, were formiable to all the German nations around them, and ſuppoſed to be more than a match for the gods themſelves. [Page 8] They were a people reſtleſs and bold, who conſidered war as their trade; and were, in conſequence, taught to conſider victory as a doubtful advantage, but courage as a certain good. A nation, however, entirely addicted to war, has ſeldom wanted the imputation of cruelty, as thoſe terrors which are oppoſed without fear, are often inflicted without regret. The Saxons are repreſented as a very cruel nation; but we muſt remember that their enemies have drawn the picture.

It was no diſagreeable circumſtance to theſe ambitious people to be invited into a country upon which they had, for ages before, been forming deſigns. In conſequence, therefore, of Vortigern's ſolemn invitation, who was then king of Britain, they arrived with fifteen hundred men, under the command of Hengiſt and Horſa, who were brothers, and landed on the iſle of Thanet. There they did not long remain inactive; but, being joined by the Britiſh forces, they boldly marched againſt the Picts and Scots, who had advanced as far as Lincolnſhire, and ſoon gained a compleat victory over them.

The Saxons, however, being ſenſible of the fertility of the country to which they came, and the barrenneſs of that which they had left behind, invited over great numbers of their countrymen to become ſharers in their new expedition. Accordingly they received a freſh ſupply of five thouſand men, who paſſed over in ſeventeen veſſels, and ſoon made a permanent eſtabliſhment in the iſland.

The Britiſh hiſtorians, in order to account for the eaſy conqueſt of their country by the Saxons, aſſign their treachery, not leſs than their valour, as a principal cauſe. They alledge that Vortigern was artfully inveigled into a paſſion for Rowena, the daughter of Hengiſt; and, in order to marry her, was induced to ſettle the fertile province of Kent upon her father, from whence the Saxons could never after be removed. [Page 9] It is alledged alſo that, upon the death of Vortimer, which ſhortly happened after the victory he obtained at Eglesford, Vortigern his father was reinſtated upon the throne. It is added that this weak monarch accepting of a feſtival from Hengiſt, three hundred of his nobility were treacherouſly ſlaughtered, and himſelf detained as a captive.

After the death of Hengiſt, ſeveral other German tribes, allured by the ſucceſs of their countrymen, went over in great numbers. A body of their countrymen, under the conduct of Aella and his three ſons, had ſome time before laid the foundation of the kingdom of the South Saxons, though not without great oppoſition and bloodſhed. This new kingdom included Surry, Suſſex, and the New Foreſt: and extended to the frontiers of Kent.

Another tribe of Saxons, under the command of Cerdic and his ſon Kenric, landed in the Weſt, and from thence took the name of Weſt Saxons. Theſe met a very vigorous oppoſition from the natives, but being reinforced from Germany, and aſſiſted by their countrymen on the iſland, they routed the Britons; and although retarded in their progreſs by the celebrated king Arthur, they had ſtrength enough to keep poſſeſſion of the conqueſts they had already made. Cerdic, therefore, with his ſon Kenric, eſtabliſhed the third Saxon kingdom in the iſland, namely, that of the Weſt Saxons, including the counties of Hants, Dorſet, Wilts, Berks, and the iſle of Wight.

It was in oppoſing this Saxon invader that the celebrated prince Arthur acquired his fame. Howſoever unſucceſsful all his valour might have been in the end, yet his name makes ſo great a figure in the fabulous annals of the times, that ſome notice muſt be taken of him. This prince is of ſuch obſcure original, that ſome authors ſuppoſe him to be the ſon of king Ambroſius, and others only his nephew; others [Page 10] again affim that he was a Corniſh prince, and ſon of Gurlois, king of that province. However this be, it is certain he was a commander of great valour, and could courage alone repair the miſerable ſtate of the Britons, his might have been effectual. According to the moſt authentic hiſtorians, he is ſaid to have worſted the Saxons in twelve ſucceſſive battles. In one of theſe, namely, that fought at Caerbadon, in Berks, it is aſſerted that he killed no leſs than four hundred and forty of the enemy with his own hand. But the Saxons were too numerous and powerful to be extirpated by the deſultory efforts of ſingle valour; ſo that a peace, and not conqueſt, were the immediate fruits of his victories. The enemy, therefore, ſtill gained ground; and this prince, in the decline of life, had the mortification, from ſome domeſtic troubles of his own, to be a patient ſpectator of their encroachments. His firſt wiſe had been carried off by Melnas, king of Somerſetſhire, who detained her a whole year at Glaſtonbury, until Arthur, diſcovering the place of her retreat, advanced with an army againſt the raviſher, and obliged him to give her back. In his ſecond wife, perhaps, he might have been more fortunate, as we have no mention made of her, but it was otherwiſe with his third conſort, who was debauched by his own nephew, Mordred. This produced a rebellion, in which the king and his traiterous kinſman meeting in battle, ſlew each other.

In the mean time, while the Saxons were thus gaining ground in the Weſt, their countrymen were not leſs active in other parts of the iſland. Adventurers ſtill continuing to pour over from Germany, one body of them, under the command of Uſſa, ſeized upon the counties of Cambridge, Suffolk, and Norfolk, and gave their commander the title of king of the Eaſt Angles, which was the fourth Saxon kingdom founded in Britain

[Page 11] Another body of theſe adventurers formed a kingdom under the title of Eaſt Saxony, or Eſſex, comprehending Eſſex, Middleſex, and part of Hertfordſhire. This kingdom, which was diſmembered from that of Kent, formed the fifth Saxon principality founded in Britain.

The kingdom of Mercia was the ſixth which was eſtabliſhed by theſe fierce invaders, comprehending all the middle counties, from the banks of the Severn to the frontiers of the two laſt named kingdoms.

The ſeventh and laſt kingdom which they obtained was that of Northumberland, one of the moſt powerful and extenſive of them all. This was formed from the union of two ſmaller Saxon kingdoms, the one called Bernicia, containing the preſent county of Northumberland and the biſhoprick of Durham; the ſubjects of the other, called the Deiri, extending themſelves over Lancaſhire and Yorkſhire. Theſe kingdoms were united in the perſon of Ethelfrid, king of Northumberland, by the expulſion of Edwin, his brother-in-law, from the kingdom of the Deiri, and the ſeizure of his dominions. In this manner the natives being overpowered, or entirely expelled, ſeven kingdoms were eſtabliſhed in Britain, which have been ſince well known by the name of the Saxon Heptarchy.

The Saxons being thus eſtabliſhed in all the deſirable parts of the iſland, and having no longer the Britons to contend with, began to quarrel among themſelves. A country divided into a number of petty independent principalities, muſt ever be ſubject to contention, as jealouſly and ambition have more frequent incentives to operate. After a ſeries, therefore, of battles, treaſons, and ſtratagems, all theſe petty principalities fell under the power of Egbert, king of Weſſex, whoſe merits deſerved dominion, and whoſe prudence ſecured his conqueſts. By him all the kingdoms of the Heptarchy were united under [Page 12] one common juriſdiction; but, to give ſplendour to his authority, a general council of the clergy and laity was ſummoned at Wincheſter, where he was ſolemnly crowned king of England, by which name the united kingdom was thenceforward called.

Thus, about four hundred years after the firſt arrival of the Saxons in Britain, all their petty ſettlements were united into one great ſtate, and nothing offered but proſpects of peace, ſecurity, and increaſing refinement.

It was about this period that St. Gregory undertook to ſend miſſionaries among the Saxons to convert them to Chriſtianity. It is ſaid, that before his elevation to the papal chair, he chanced one day to paſs thro' the ſlave-market at Rome, and perceiving ſome children of great beauty who were ſet up for ſale, he enquired about their country, and finding they were Engliſh pages, be is ſaid to have cried out, in the Latin language, Non Angli, ſed Angeli forent, ſi eſſent Chriſtiani; They would not be Engliſh, but Angels, had they been Chriſtians. From that time he was ſtruck with an ardent deſire to convert that unenlightened nation, and ordered a monk, named Auguſtine, and others of the ſame fraternity, to undertake the miſſion into Britain.

This pious monk, upon his firſt landing in the iſle of Thanet, ſent one of his interpreters to Ethelbert, the Kentiſh king, declaring he was come from Rome with offers of eternal ſalvation. The king immediately ordered them to be furniſhed with all neceſſaries, and even viſited them, though without declaring himſelf as yet in their favour. Auguſtine, however, encouraged by this favourable reception, and now ſeeing a proſpect of ſucceſs, proceeded with redoubled zeal to preach the goſpel. The king openly eſpouſed the Chriſtian religion, while his example wrought ſo ſuccesfully on his ſubjects, that numbers of them came voluntarily to be baptized, their miſſioner [Page 13] loudly declaring againſt any coercive means towards their converſion. In this manner the other kingdoms, one after the other, embraced the faith; and England was ſoon as famous for its ſuperſtition as it had once been for its averſeneſs to Chriſtianity.


PEACE and unanimity had been ſcarcely eſtabliſhed in England when a mighty ſwarm of thoſe nations called Danes, who had poſſeſſed the countries bordering on the Baltic, began to level their fury againſt England. A ſmall body of them at firſt landed on the coaſts, with a view to learn the ſtate of the country; and having committed ſome ſmall depredations, fled to their ſhips for ſafety. About ſeven years after this firſt attempt, they made a deſcent upon the kingdom of Northumberland, where they pillaged a monaſtery; but their fleet being ſhattered by a ſtorm, they were defeated by the inhabitants, and put to the ſword. It was not till about five years after the acceſſion of Egbert, that their invaſions became truly formidable. From that time they continued, with unceaſing ferocity, until the whole kingdom was reduced to a ſtate of the moſt diſtreſsful bondage.

Though often repulſed, they always obtained their end, of ſpoiling the country, and carrying the plunder away. It was their method to avoid coming, if poſſible, to a general engagement; but ſcattering themſelves over the face of the country, they carried away, indiſcriminately, as well the inhabitants themſelves, as all their moveable poſſeſſions.

At length, however, they reſolved upon making a ſettlement in the country, and landing on the iſle [Page 14] of Thanet, ſtationed themſelves there. In this place they kept their ground, notwithſtanding a bloody victory gained over them by Ethelwolf. The reign of Ethelbald, his ſucceſſor, was of no long continuance; however, in ſo ſhort ſpace, he crouded a number of vices ſufficient to render his name odious to poſterity.

This prince was ſucceeded by his brother Ethelred, a brave commander, but whoſe valour was inſufficient to repreſs the Daniſh incurſions. In theſe exploits he was always aſſiſted by his younger brother, Alfred, afterwards ſurnamed the Great, who ſacrificed all private reſentment to the public good, having been deprived by the king of a large patrimony. It was during Ethelred's reign, that the Danes, penetrating into Mercia, took up their winter quarters at Nottingham; from whence, the king, attempting to diſlodge them, received a wound in the battle, of which he died, leaving his brother, Alfred, the inheritance of a kingdom that was now reduced to the brink of ruin.

The Danes had already ſubdued Northumberland and Eaſt Anglia, and had penetrated into the very heart of Weſſex. The Mercians were united againſt Alfred; the dependence upon the other provinces of the empire was but precarious: the lands lay uncultivated, through fears of continual incurſions; and all the churches and monaſteries were burned to the ground. In this terrible ſituation of affairs, nothing appeared but objects of terror, and every hope was loſt in deſpair. The wiſdom and virtues of one man alone were ſound ſufficient to bring back happineſs, ſecurity, and order; and all the calamities of the times found redreſs from Alfred.

This prince ſeemed born not only to defend his bleeding country, but even to adorn humanity. He had given very early inſtances of thoſe great virtues which afterwards gave ſplendour to his reign; and [Page 15] was anointed by pope Leo, as future king, when he was ſent by his father for his education to Rome. On his return from thence, he became every day more the object of his father's fond affections; and that, perhaps, was the reaſon why his education was at firſt neglected. He had attained the age of twelve, before he was made acquainted with the loweſt elements of literature; but hearing ſome Saxon poems read, which recounted the praiſe of heroes, his whole mind was rouſed, not only to obtain a ſimiltude of glory, but alſo to be able to tranſmit that glory to poſterity. Encouraged by the queen, his mother, and aſſiſted by a penetrating genius, he ſoon learned to read theſe compoſitions, and proceeded from thence to a knowledge of Latin authors, who directed his taſte, and rectified his ambition.

He was ſcarce come to the crown, when he was obliged to oppoſe the Danes, who had ſeized Wilton, and were exerciſing their uſual ravages on the country around. He marched againſt them with the few troops he could aſſemble on a ſudden, and a deſperate battle was ſought, to the diſadvantage of the Engliſh. But it was not in the power of misfortune to abate the king's diligence, though it repreſſed his power to do good. He was in a little time enabled to hazard another engagement; ſo that the enemy, dreading his courage and activity, propoſed terms of peace, which he did not think proper to refuſe. They, by this treaty, agreed to relinquiſh the kingdom; but, inſtead of complying with their engagements, they only removed from one place to another, burning and deſtroying wherever they came.

Alfred, thus oppoſed to an enemy whom no ſtationary force could reſiſt, nor no treaty could bind, found himſelf unable to repel the efforts of thoſe ravagers, who from all quarters invaded him. New ſwarms of the enemy arrived every year upon the coaſt, and freſh invaſions were ſtill projected. Some [Page 16] of his ſubjects therefore left their country, and retired into Wales, or fled to the continent. Others ſubmitted to the conquerors, and purchaſed their lives by their freedom. In this univerſal defection, Alfred vainly attempted to remind them of the duty they owed their country and their king; but finding his remonſtrances ineffectual, he was obliged to give way to the wretched neceſſity of the times. Accordingly, relinquiſhing the enſigns of his dignity, and diſmiſſing his ſervants, he dreſſed himſelf in the habit of a peaſant, and lived for ſome time in the houſe of an herdſman, who had been entruſted with the care of his cattle. In this manner, though abandoned by the world, and fearing an enemy in every quarter, ſtill he reſolved to continue in his country, to catch the ſlighteſt occaſions for bringing it relief. In his ſolitary retreat, which was in the county of Somerſet, at the confluence of the rivers Parret and Thone, he amuſed himſelf with muſic, and ſupported his humble lot with the hopes of better fortune. It is ſaid, that, one day, being commanded by the herdſman's wife, who was ignorant of his quality, to take care of ſome cakes which were baking by the fire, he happened to let them burn, for which ſhe ſeverely upbraided him for neglect.

Previous to his retirement, Alfred had concerted meaſures for aſſembing a few truſty friends, whenever an opportunity ſhould offer of annoying the enemy, who were now in poſſeſſion of all the country. This choſen band, ſtill faithful to their monarch, took ſhelter in the foreſts and marſhes of Somerſet, and from thence made occaſional irruptions upon ſtraggling parties of the enemy. Their ſucceſs, in this rapacious and dreary method of living, encouraged many more to join their ſociety, till at length ſufficiently augmented, they repaired to their monarch, who had by that time been reduced by famine to the laſt extremity.

[Page 17] Mean while Ubba, the chief of the Daniſh commanders, carried terror over the whole land, and now ravaged the country of Wales without oppoſition. The only place where he found reſiſtance was, in his return, from the caſtle of Kenwith, into which the earl of Devonſhire had retired with a ſmall body of troops. This gallant ſoldier finding himſelf unable to ſuſtain a ſiege, and knowing the danger of ſurrendering to a perfidious enemy, was reſolved, by one deſperate effort, to ſally out and force his way through the beſiegers, ſword in hand. The propoſal was embraced by all his followers, while the Danes, ſecure in their numbers, and in their contempt of the enemy, were not only routed with great ſlaughter, but Ubba, their general, was ſlain.

This victory once more reſtored courage to the diſpirited Saxons; and Alfred, taking advantage of their favourable diſpoſition, prepared to animate them to a vigorous exertion of their ſuperiority. He ſoon therefore apprized them of the place of his retreat, and inſtructed them to be ready with all their ſtrength at a minute's warning. But ſtill none was found who would undertake to give intelligence of the forces, and poſture of the enemy: not knowing, therefore, a perſon in whom he could confide, he undertook this dangerous taſk himſelf. In the ſimple dreſs of a ſhepherd, with an harp in his hand, he entered the Daniſh camp, tried all his muſical arts to pleaſe, and was ſo much admired, that he was brought even into the preſence of Guthrum, the Daniſh prince, with whom he remained ſome days. There he remarked the ſupine ſecurity of the Danes, their contempt of the Engliſh, their negligence in foraging and plundering, and their diſſolute waſting of ſuch ill-gotten booty. Having made his obſervations, he returned to his retreat, and detaching proper emiſſaries among his ſubjects, appointed them to meet him in arms in [Page 18] the foreſt of Selwood, a ſummons which they gladly obeyed.

It was againſt the moſt unguarded quarter of the enemy that Alfred made his moſt violent attack, while the Danes, ſurprized to behold an army of Engliſh, whom they conſidered as totally ſubdued, made but a faint reſiſtance. Notwithſtanding the ſuperiority of their number, they were routed with great ſlaughter; and, though ſuch as eſcaped fled for refuge into a fortified camp in the neighbourhood, being unprovided for a ſiege, in leſs than a fortnight they were compelled to ſurrender at diſcretion. By the conqueror's permiſſion, thoſe who did not chuſe to embrace Chriſtianity embarked for Flanders, under the command of one of their generals, called Haſtings. Guthrum, their prince, became a convert, with thirty of his nobles, and the king himſelf anſwered for him at the font.

Alfred had now attained the meridian of glory; he poſſeſſed a greater extent of territory than had ever been enjoyed by any of his predeceſſors; the kings of Wales did him homage for their poſſeſſions, the Northumbrians received a king of his appointing, and no enemy appeared to give him the leaſt apprehenſions, or excite an alarm. In this ſtate of proſperity and profound tranquility, which laſted for twelve years, Alfred was diligently employed in cultivating the arts of peace, and in repairing the damages which the kingdom had ſuſtained by war.

His care was to poliſh the country by arts, as he had protected it by arms. He is ſaid to have drawn up a body of laws. His care for the encouragement of learning did not a little tend to improve the morals and reſtrain the barbarous habits of the people. When he came to the throne, he found the Engliſh ſunk into the groſſeſt ignorance and barbariſm, proceeding from the continued diſorders of the government, and from the ravages of the Danes. He himſelf [Page 19] complains, that, on his acceſſion, he knew not one perſon ſouth of the Thames who could ſo much as interpret the Latin ſervice. To remedy this deficiency, he invited over the moſt celebrated ſcholars from all parts of Europe; he founded, or at leaſt reeſtabliſhed, the univerſity of Oxford, and endowed it with many privileges, and he gave, in his own example, the ſtrongeſt incentives to ſtudy. He uſually divided his time into three equal portions; one was given to ſleep, and the refection of his body, diet, and exerciſe; another to the diſpatch of buſineſs; and the third to ſtudy and devotion. He made a conſiderable progreſs in the different ſtudies of grammar, rhetoric, philoſophy, architecture, and geometry. He was an excellent hiſtorian, he underſtood muſic, he was acknowledged to be the beſt Saxon poet of the age, and left many works behind him, ſome of which remain to this day. To give a character of this prince would only be, to ſum up thoſe qualities which conſtitute perfection. Even virtues ſeemingly oppoſite, were happily blended in his diſpoſition; perſevering, yet flexible; moderate, yet enterpriſing; juſt, yet merciful; ſtern in command, yet gentle in converſation. Nature alſo, as if deſirous that ſuch admirable qualities of mind ſhould be ſet off to the greateſt advantage, had beſtowed on him all bodily accompliſhments, vigour, dignity, and an engaging, open countenance.

His ſecond ſon, Edward, ſucceeded him on the throne. To him ſucceeded Athelſtan, his natural ſon, the illegitimacy of his birth not being then deemed a ſufficient obſtacle to his inheriting the crown. He died at Glouceſter, after a reign of ſixteen years, and was ſucceeded by his brother, Edmund, who, like the reſt of his predeceſſors, met with diſturbance from the Northumbrians on his acceſſion to the throne; but his activity ſoon defeated their attempts. The reſentment this monarch bore to men of an abandoned [Page 20] way of living was the cauſe of his death. He was killed by Leolff, a robber, at a feaſt, where this villain had the inſolence to intrude into the king's preſence. His brother, Edred, was appointed to ſucceed, and like his predeceſſors, this monarch found himſelf at the head of a rebellious and refractory people. Edred implicitly ſubmitted to the directions of Dunſtan the monk, both in church and ſtate; and the kingdom was in a fair way of being turned into a papal province by this zealous eccleſiaſtic; but he was checked in the midſt of his career, by the death of the king, who died of a quinſey, in the tenth year of his reign.

Edwy, his nephew, who aſcended the throne, his own ſons being yet unfit to govern, was a prince of great perſonal accompliſhments, and a martial diſpoſition. But he was now come to the government of a kingdom, in which he had an enemy to contend with, againſt whom all military virtues could be of little ſervice. Dunſtan, who had governed during the former reign, was reſolved to omit nothing of his authority in this; and Edwy, immediately upon his acceſſion, found himſelf involved in a quarrel with the monks, whoſe rage, neither his accompliſhments, nor his virtues could mitigate.

Among other inſtances of their cruelty, the following is recorded. There was a lady of the royal blood, named Elgiva, whoſe beauty had made a ſtrong impreſſion upon the young monarch's heart. He had even ventured to marry her, contrary to the advice of his counſellors, as ſhe was within the degrees of aſſinity prohibited by the canon law. On the day of his coronation, while his nobility were giving a looſe to the more noiſy pleaſures of wine and feſtivity in the great hall, Edwy retired to his wife's apartment; where, in company with her mother, he enjoyed the more pleaſing ſatisfaction of her converſation. Dunſtan no ſooner perceived his abſence, [Page 21] than conjecturing the reaſon, he ruſhed furiouſly into the apartment, and upbraiding him with all the bitterneſs of eccleſiaſtical rancour, dragged him forth in the moſt outrageous manner. Dunſtan, it ſeems, was not without his enemies, for the king was adviſed to puniſh this inſult, by bringing him to account for the money with which he had been entruſted during the laſt reign. This account, the haughty monk refuſed to give in; wherefore, he was deprived of all the eccleſiaſtical and civil emoluments of which he had been in poſſeſſion, and baniſhed the kingdom. His exile only ſerved to encreaſe the reputation of his ſanctity with the people; among the reſt Odo, archbiſhop of Canterbury, was ſo far tranſported with the ſpirit of the party, that he pronounced a divorce between Edwy and Elgiva. The king was unable to reſiſt the indignation of the church, and conſented to ſurrender his beautiful wife to its fury. Accordingly, Odo ſent into the palace a party of ſoldiers, who ſeized the queen; and, by his orders, branded her on the face with an hot iron. Not contented with this cruel vengeance, they carried her by force into Ireland, and there commanded her to remain in perpetual exile. This injunction, however, was too diſtreſſing for that faithful woman to comply with; for, being cured of her wound, and having obliterated the marks which had been made to deface her beauty, ſhe once more ventured to return to the king, whom ſhe ſtill regarded as her huſband. But misfortune continued to purſue her. She was taken priſoner by a party whom the archbiſhop had appointed to obſerve her conduct, and was put to death in the moſt cruel manner; the ſinews of her legs being cut, and her body mangled, ſhe was thus left to expire in the moſt cruel agony. In the mean time, a ſecret revolt againſt Edwy became almoſt general; and Dunſtan put himſelf at the head of the party. The malecontents at laſt proceeded to open rebellion; and having [Page 22] placed Edgar, the king's younger brother, a boy of about thirteen years of age, at their head, they ſoon put him in poſſeſſion of all the northern parts of the kingdom. Edwy's power and the number of his adherents every day declining, he was at laſt obliged to conſent to a partition of the kingdom; but his death, which happened ſoon after, freed his enemies from all further inquietude, and gave Edgar peaceable poſſeſſion of the government.

Edgar being placed on the throne by the influence of the monks, affected to be entirely guided by their directions in all his ſucceeding tranſactions.

Little worthy of notice is mentioned of this monarch except his amour with Elfrida, which is of too ſingular a nature to be omitted. Edgar had long heard of the beauty of a young lady, whoſe name was Elfrida, daughter to the earl of Devonſhire; but, unwilling to credit common fame, in this particular, he ſent Athelwald, his favourite friend, to ſee, and inform him, if Elfrida was indeed that incomparable woman report had deſcribed her. Ethelwald arriving at the earl's, had no ſooner caſt his eyes upon that nobleman's daughter, than he became deſperately enamoured of her himſelf. Such was the violence of his paſſion, that, forgetting his maſter's intentions, he ſolicited only his own intereſts, and demanded for himſelf the beautiful Elfrida, from her father in marriage. The favourite of a king was not likely to find a refuſal; the earl gave his conſent, and their nuptials were performed in private. Upon his return to court, which was ſhortly after, he aſſured the king, that her riches alone, and her high quality had been the cauſe of her fame, and he appeared amazed how the world could talk ſo much, and ſo unjuſtly of her charms. The king was ſatisfied, and no longer felt any curioſity, while Ethelwald ſecretly triumphed in his addreſs. When he had, by this deceit, weaned the king from his purpoſe, he took an opportunity, [Page 23] after ſome time, of turning the converſation on Elfrida, repreſenting, that though the fortune of the earl of Devonſhire's daughter would be a trifle to a king, yet it would be an immenſe acquiſition to a needy ſubject. He, therefore, humbly entreated permiſſion to pay his addreſſes to her, as ſhe was the richeſt heireſs in the kingdom. A requeſt ſo ſeemingly reaſonable, was readily complied with; Ethelwald returned to his wife, and their nuptials were ſolemnized in public. His greateſt care, however, was employed in keeping her from court; and he took every precaution to prevent her from appearing before a king ſo ſuſceptible of love, while ſhe was ſo capable of inſpiring that paſſion. But it was impoſſible to keep his treachery long concealed. Edgar was ſoon informed of the whole tranſaction; but diſſembling his reſentment, he took occaſion to viſit that part of the country, where this miracle of beauty was detained, accompanied by Ethelwald, who reluctantly attended him thither. Upon coming near the lady's habitation he told him, that he had a curioſity to ſee his wife, of whom he had formerly heard ſo much, and deſired to be introduced as his acquaintance. Ethelwald, thunder-ſtruck at the propoſal, did all in his power, but in vain, to diſſuade him. All he could obtain, was permiſſion to go before, on pretence of preparing for the king's reception. On his arrival, he fell at his wife's feet, confeſſing what he had done to be poſſeſſed of her charms, and conjuring her to conceal, as much as poſſible, her beauty from the king, who was but too ſuſceptible of its power. Elfrida, little obliged to him for a paſſion that had deprived her of a crown, promiſed compliance; but, prompted either by vanity, or revenge, adorned her perſon with the moſt exquiſite art, and called up all her beauty on the occaſion. The event anſwered her expectations; the king, no ſooner ſaw, than he loved her, and was inſtantly reſolved to obtain her. The better [Page 24] to effect his intentions, he concealed his paſſion from the huſband, and took leave with a ſeeming indifference; but his revenge was not the leſs certain and fatal. Ethelwald was ſome time after ſent into Northumberland, upon pretence of urgent affairs, and was found murdered in a wood by the way. Some ſay be was ſtabbed by the king's own hand; ſome, that he only commanded the aſſaſſinaton; however this be, Elfrida was invited ſoon after to court, by the king's own order, and their nuptials were performed with the uſual ſolemnity.

This monarch died, after a reign of ſixteen years, in the thirty-third year of his age, being ſucceeded by his ſon, Edward, whom he had by his firſt marriage, with the daughter of the earl of Ordmer.

Edward, ſurnamed the Martyr, was made king by the intereſt of the monks, and lived but four years after his acceſſion. In his reign there is nothing remarkable, if we except his tragical and memorable end. Hunting one day near Corfe caſtle, where Elfrida, his mother-in-law reſided, he thought it his duty to pay her a viſit, although he was not attended by any of his retinue. There deſiring ſome liquor to be brought him, as he was thirſty, while ſhe was yet holding the cup to his head, one of Elfrida's domeſtics, inſtructed for that purpoſe, ſtabbed him in the back. The king, finding himſelf wounded, put ſpurs to his horſe; but, fainting with the loſs of blood, he fell from the ſaddle, and his foot ſticking in the ſtirrup, he was dragged along by his horſe, till he died.

Ethelred the Second, the ſon of Edgar and Elfrida, ſucceeded; a weak and irreſolute monarch, incapable of governing the kingdom, or of providing for its ſafety. During his reign the old and terrible enemies, the Danes, who ſeemed not to be loaded with the ſame accumulation of vice and folly as the Engliſh, were daily gaining ground. The weakneſs and the inexperience of Ethelred appeared to give a favourable [Page 25] opportunity for renewing their depredations; and, accordingly, they landed on ſeveral parts of the coaſt, ſpreading their uſual terror and devaſtation.

As they lived indiſcriminately among the Engliſh, a reſolution was taken for a general maſſacre; and Ethelred, by a policy incident to weak princes, embraced the cruel reſolution of putting them all to the ſword. This plot was carried on with ſuch ſecrecy, that it was executed in one day, and all the Danes in England were deſtroyed without mercy. But this maſſacre ſo perfidious in the contriving, and ſo cruel in the execution, inſtead of ending the long miſeries of the people, only prepared the way for greater calamities.

While the Engliſh were yet congratulating each other upon their late deliverance from an inveterate enemy, Sweyn, king of Denmark, who had been informed of their treacherous cruelties, appeared off the weſtern coaſts with a large fleet, meditating ſlaughter, and furious with revenge. Ethelred was obliged to fly into Normandy, and the whole country thus came under the power of Sweyn, his victorious rival.

Canute, afterwards ſurnamed the Great, ſucceeded Sweyn as king of Denmark, and alſo as general of the Daniſh forces in England. The conteſt between him and Edmund Ironſide, ſucceſſor to Ethelred, was managed with great obſtinacy and perſeverance; the firſt battle that was ſought appeared undeciſive; a ſecond followed, in which the Danes were victorious; but Edmund ſtill having intereſt enough to bring a third army into the field, the Daniſh and Engliſh nobility, equally harraſſed by theſe convulſions, obliged their kings to come to a compromiſe, and to divide the kingdom between them by treaty. Canute reſerved to himſelf the northern parts of the kingdom, the ſouthern parts were left to Edmund; but this prince being murdered about a month after the treaty by his two chamberlains, at Oxford, Canute [Page 26] was left in peaceable poſſeſſion of the whole kingdom.

Canute is repreſented by ſome hiſtorians as one of the firſt characters in thoſe barbarous ages. The piety of the latter part of his life, and the reſolute valour of the former, were topics that filled the mouths of his courtiers with flattery and praiſe. They even affected to think his power uncontroulable, and that all things would be obedient to his command. Canute, ſenſible of their adulation, is ſaid to have taken the following method to reprove them. He ordered his chair to be ſet on the ſea-ſhore while the tide was coming in, and commanded the ſea to retire. "Thou art under my dominion, cried he; the land upon which I ſit is mine; I charge thee therefore to approach no farther, nor dare to wet the feet of thy ſovereign." He feigned to ſit ſome time in expectation of ſubmiſſion, till the waves began to ſurround him: then, turning to his courtiers, he obſerved that the titles of Lord and Maſter, belonged only to him whom both earth and ſeas were ready to obey. Thus feared and reſpected, he lived many years, honoured with the ſurname of Great for his power, but deſerving it ſtill more for his virtues. He died at Shaftſbury, in the nineteenth year of his reign, leaving behind him three ſons, Sweyn, Harold, and Hardicnute. Sweyn was crowned king of Norway, Hardicnute was put in poſſeſſion of Denmark, and Harold ſucceeded his father on the Engliſh throne.

To Harold ſucceeded his brother, Hardicnute, whoſe title was readily acknowledged both by the Danes and the Engliſh; and, upon his arrival from the continent, he was received with the moſt extravagant demonſtrations of joy. This king's violent and unjuſt government was but of ſhort duration. He died two years after his acceſſion, in conſequence [Page 27] of exceſs at the marriage of a Daniſh lord, which was celebrated at Lambeth.

The diſorders of the Daniſh monarchs once more induced the Engliſh to place a monarch of the Saxon line upon the throne, and accordingly Edward, ſurnamed the Confeſſor, was by the general conſent crowned king.

The Engliſh, who had long groaned under a foreign yoke, now ſet no bounds to their joy, at finding the line of their ancient monarchs reſtored.

As he had been bred in the Norman court, he ſhewed, in every inſtance, a predilection for the cuſtoms, laws, and even the natives of that country; and among the reſt of his faults, though he had married Editha, the daughter of Godwin, yet, either from miſtaken piety, or fixed averſion, during his whole reign he abſtained from her bed.

Thus having no legitimate iſſue, and being wholly engroſſed, during the continuance of a long reign, with the viſions of ſuperſtition, he was at laſt ſurprized by ſickneſs, which brought him to his end, on the fifth of January, in the ſixty-fifth year of his age, and twenty-fifth of his reign.

Harold, the ſon of a popular nobleman, whoſe name was Godwin, and whoſe intrigues and virtues ſeemed to give a right to his pretenſions, aſcended the throne without any oppoſition.

But neither his valour, his juſtice, nor his popularity, were able to ſecure him from the misfortunes attendant upon an ill-grounded title. His pretenſions were oppoſed by William duke of Normandy, who inſiſted that the crown belonged of right to him, it being bequeathed to him by Edward the Confeſſor.

William, who was afterwards called the Conqueror, was the natural ſon of Robert duke of Normandy. His mother's name was Arlette, a beautiful maid of Falaize, whom Robert fell in love with as ſhe ſtood gazing at her door whilſt he paſſed through the [Page 28] town. William, who was the offspring of this amour, owed a part of his greatneſs to his birth, but ſtill more to his own perſonal merit. His body was vigorous, his mind capacious and noble, and his courage not to be repreſſed by apparent danger. Upon coming to his dukedom of Normandy, though yet very young, he on all ſides oppoſed his rebellious ſubjects, and repreſſed foreign invaders, while his valour and conduct prevailed in every action. The tranquility which he had thus eſtabliſhed in his dominions, induced him to extend his views; and ſome overtures made him by Edward the Confeſſor, in the latter part of his reign, who was wavering in the choice of a ſucceſſor, enflamed his ambition with a deſire of ſucceeding to the Engliſh throne. The pope himſelf was not behind the reſt in favouring his pretenſions; but, either influenced by the apparent juſtice of his claims, or by the hopes of extending the authority of the church, he immediately pronounced Harold an uſurper. With ſuch favourable incentives, William ſoon found himſelf at the head of a choſen army of ſixty thouſand men, all equipped in the moſt warlike and ſplendid manner. It was in the beginning of ſummer that he embarked this powerful body on board a fleet of three hundred ſail; and, after ſome ſmall oppoſition from the weather, landed at Pevenſy on the coaſt of Suſſex, with reſolute tranquility.

Harold, who ſeemed reſolved to defend his right to the crown, and retain that ſovereignty which he had received from the people, who only had a right to beſtow it, was now returning, fluſhed with conqueſt from defeating the Norwegians, who had invaded the kingdom, with all the forces he had employed in that expedition, and all he could invite or collect in the country through which he paſſed. His army was compoſed of active and valiant troops, in high ſpirits, ſtrongly attached to their king, and eager to engage. [Page 29] On the other hand, the army of William conſiſted of the flower of all the continent, and had been long enured to danger. The men of Bretagne, Bologne, Flanders, Poictou, Maine, Orleans, France, and Normandy, were all voluntarily united under his command. England never before, nor never ſince, ſaw two ſuch armies drawn up to diſpute its crown. The day before the battle, William ſent an offer to Harold to decide the quarrel between them by ſingle combat, and thus to ſpare the blood of thouſands; but Harold refuſed, and ſaid, he would leave it to the god of armies to determine. Both armies therefore, that night, pitched in ſight of each other, expecting the dawning of the next day with impatience. The Engliſh paſſed the night in ſongs and feaſting; the Normans in devotion and prayer.

The next morning, at ſeven, as ſoon as day appeared, both armies were drawn up in array againſt each other. Harold appeared in the center of his forces, leading on his army on foot, that his men might be more encouraged, by ſeeing their king expoſed to an equality of danger. William fought on horſeback, leading on his army that moved at once, ſinging the ſong of Roland, one of the famous chiefs of their country. The Normans began the ſight with their croſs-bows, which, at firſt, galled, and ſurprized the Engliſh, and as their ranks were cloſe, their arrows did great execution. But ſoon they came to cloſe fight, and the Engliſh with their bills, hewed down their adverſaries with great ſlaughter. Confuſion was ſpreading among the ranks, when William, who found himſelf on the brink of deſtruction, haſtened, with a ſelect band, to the relief of his forces. His preſence reſtored the ſuſpenſe of battle; he was ſeen in every place, endeavouring to pierce the ranks of the enemy, and had three horſes ſlain under him. At length perceiving that the Engliſh line continued impenetrable, he pretended to give ground, which, as [Page 30] he expected, drew the enemy from their ranks, and he was inſtantly ready to take advantage of their diſorder. Upon a ſignal given, the Normans immediately returned to the charge with greater fury than before, broke the Engliſh troops, and purſued them to a riſing ground. It was in this extremity, that Harold was ſeen flying from rank to rank, rallying and inſpiring his troops with vigour; and, though he had toiled all day, till near night-fall, in the front of his Kentiſh men, yet he ſtill ſeemed unabated in force or courage, keeping his men to the poſt of honour. Once more, therefore, the victory ſeemed to turn againſt the Normans, and they fell in great numbers, ſo that the fierceneſs and obſtinacy of this memorable battle, was often renewed by the courage of the leaders, whenever that of the ſoldiers began to ſlacken. Fortune, at length, determined a victory that valour was unable to decide. Harold making a furious onſet at the head of his troops, againſt the Norman heavy armed infantry, was ſhot into the brains by an arrow; and his two valiant brothers, fighting by his ſide, ſhared the ſame fate. He fell with his ſword in his hand, amidſt heaps of ſlain, and after the battle, the royal corpſe could hardly be diſtinguiſhed among the dead.

This was the end of the Saxon monarchy in England, which had continued for more than ſix hundred years.


[Page 31]

AS ſoon as William paſſed the Thames, at Wallingford, Stigand the primate, made ſubmiſſions to him in the name of the clergy; and before he came within ſight of the city, all the chief nobility came into his camp, and declared an intention of yielding to his authority. William was glad of being thus peaceably put in poſſeſſion of a throne which ſeveral of his predeceſſors had not gained without repeated victories.

But in order to give his invaſion all the ſanction poſſible, he was crowned at Weſtminſter by the archbiſhop of York, and took the oath uſual in the times of the Saxon and Daniſh kings, which was, to protect and defend the church, to obſerve the laws of the realm, and to govern the people with impartiality. Having thus ſecured the government, and, by a mixture of vigour and lenity brought the Engliſh to an entire ſubmiſſion, he reſolved to return to the continent, there to enjoy the triumph and congratulation of his ancient ſubjects.

In the mean time, the abſence of the Conqueror in England produced the moſt fatal effects. His officers being no longer controlled by his juſtice, thought this a fit opportunity for extortion; while the Engliſh, no longer awed by his preſence, thought it the happieſt occaſion for vindicating their freedom.

The Engliſh had entered into a conſpiracy to cut off their invaders, and fixed the day for their intended maſſacre, which was to be on Aſh-Wedneſday, during the time of divine ſervice, when all the Normans would be unarmed as penitents, according to the diſcipline of the times. But William's return quickly [Page 32] diſconcerted all their ſchemes. And from that time forward he began to loſe all confidence in his Engliſh ſubjects, and to regard them as inveterate and irreconcileable enemies. He had already raiſed ſuch a number of fortreſſes in the kingdom, that he no longer dreaded the tumultuous or tranſient efforts of a diſcontented multitude; he therefore determined to treat them as a conquered nation, to indulge his own avarice, and that of his followers, by numerous confiſcations, and to ſecure his power by humbling all who were able to make any reſiſtance. He proceeded to confiſcate all the eſtates of the Engliſh gentry, and to grant them liberally to his Norman followers. Thus all the ancient and honourable families were reduced to beggary, and the Engliſh found themſelves entirely excluded from every road that led either to honour or preferment.

To keep the clergy as much as poſſible in his intereſts, he appointed none but his own countrymen to the moſt conſiderable church-dignities, and even diſplaced Stigand archbiſhop of Canterbury, upon ſome frivolous pretences.

William, having cruſhed ſeveral conſpiracies, and by puniſhing the malecontents, thus ſecured the peace of his dominions, now expected reſt from his labours; and finding none either willing or powerful enough to oppoſe him, he hoped that the end of his reign would be marked with proſperity and peace. But ſuch is the blindneſs of human hope, that he found enemies where he leaſt expected them, and ſuch too as ſerved to embitter all the latter part of his life. His laſt troubles were excited by his own children, from the oppoſing of whom he could expect to reap neither glory nor gain. He had three ſons, Robert, William and Henry, beſides ſeveral daughters. Robert, his eldeſt ſon, ſurnamed Curthoſe, from the ſhortneſs of his legs, was a prince who inherited all the bravery of his family and nation, but was rather [Page 33] bold than prudent; and was often heard to expreſs his jealouſy of his two brothers, William and Henry. Theſe, by greater aſſiduity, had wrought upon the credulity and affections of the king, and conſequently were the more obnoxious to Robert. A mind, therefore, ſo well prepared for reſentment, ſoon found or made a cauſe for an open rupture. The princes were one day in ſport together, and in the idle petu lance of play, took it into their head to throw water upon their elder brother as he paſſed through the court, on leaving their apartment. Robert, all alive to ſuſpicion, quickly turned this frolic into a ſtudied indignity; and having theſe jealouſies ſtill farther enflamed by one of his favourites, he drew his ſword, and ran up ſtairs with an intent to take revenge. The whole caſtle was quickly filled with tumult, and it was not without ſome difficulty, that the king himſelf was able to appeaſe it. But he could not allay the animoſity, which from that moment, ever after prevailed in his family. Robert, attended by ſeveral of his confederates, withdrew to Rouen that very night, hoping to ſurprize the caſtle, but his deſign was defeated by the governor.

The flame being thus kindled, the popular character of the prince, and a ſympathy of manners, engaged all the young nobility of Normandy and Maine, as well as of Anjou and Brittany, to eſpouſe his quarrel; even his mother, it is ſaid, ſupported him by ſecret remittances, and aided him in this obſtinate reſiſtance by private encouragement. This unnatural conteſt continued for ſeveral years to enflame the Norman ſtate; and William was at laſt obliged to have recourſe to England for ſupporting his authority againſt his ſon. Accordingly drawing an army of Engliſhmen together, he led them over into Normandy, where he ſoon compelled Robert and his adherents to quit the field, and he was quickly reinſtated in all his dominions.

[Page 34] William had ſcarcely put an end to this tranſaction, when he felt a very ſevere blow in the death of Matilda, his queen; and, as misfortunes generally come together, he received information of a general inſurrection in Maine, the nobility of which had been always averſe to the Norman government. Upon his arrival on the continent, he found, that the inſurgents had been ſecretly aſſiſted and excited by the king of France, whoſe policy conſiſted in thus leſſening the Norman power, by creating diſſentions among the nobles of its different provinces. William's diſpleaſure was not a little increaſed by the account he received of ſome railleries which that monarch had thrown out againſt him. It ſeems that William, who was become corpulent, had been detained in bed ſome time by ſickneſs; and Philip was heard to ſay, that he only lay in of a big belly. This ſo provoked the Engliſh monarch, that he ſent him word, he would ſoon be up, and would at his churching preſent ſuch a number of tapers, as would ſet the kingdom of France in a flame.

In order to perform this promiſe, he levied a ſtrong army, and entering the iſle of France, deſtroyed and burned all the villages and houſes without oppoſition, and took the town of Mante, which he reduced to aſhes. But the progreſs of theſe hoſtilities was ſtopped by an accident which ſhortly after put an end to William's life. His horſe chancing to place his fore-feet on ſome hot aſhes, plunged ſo violently, that the rider was thrown forward, and bruiſed upon the pummel of the ſaddle to ſuch a degree that he ſuffered a relapſe, of which he died ſhortly after at a little village near Rouen.


[Page 35]

WILLIAM, ſurnamed RUFUS, from the colour of his hair, was appointed by the king's will, his ſucceſſor, while the elder ſon, Robert, was left in poſſeſſion of Normandy. Nevertheleſs, the Norman barons were, from the beginning, diſpleaſed at the diviſion of the empire by the late king; they eagerly deſired an union as before, and looked upon Robert as the proper owner of the whole. A powerful conſpiracy was therefore carried on againſt William; and Odo, the late king's brother, undertook to conduct it to maturity.

William, ſenſible of the danger that threatened him, endeavoured to gain the affections of the native Engliſh, whom he prevailed upon by promiſes of future good treatment, and preference in the diſtribution of his favours, to eſpouſe his intereſts. He was ſoon therefore in the field; and at the head of a numerous army, ſhewed himſelf in readineſs to oppoſe all who ſhould diſpute his pretenſions. In the mean time, Robert inſtead of employing his money in levies, to ſupport his friends in England, ſquandered it away in idle expences, and unmerited benefits, ſo that he procraſtinated his departure till the opportunity was loſt; while William exerted himſelf with incredible activity to diſſipate the confederacy before his brother could arrive. Nor was this difficult to effect: the conſpirators had in conſequence of Robert's aſſurances, taken poſſeſſion of ſome fortreſſes; but the appearance of the king, ſoon reduced them to implore for mercy. He granted them their lives but confiſcated all their eſtates, and baniſhed them the kingdom.

[Page 36] A new breach was made ſome time after between the brothers, in which Rufus found means to encroach ſtill farther upon Robert's poſſeſſions. Every conſpiracy thus detected, ſerved to enrich the king, who took care to apply to his own uſe thoſe treaſures which had been amaſſed for the purpoſe of dethroning him.

But the memory of theſe tranſient broils and unſucceſsful treaſons, were now totally eclipſed by one of the moſt noted enterprizes that ever adorned the annals of nations, or excited the attention of mankind. I mean the Cruſades, which were now firſt projected. Peter the Hermit, a native of Amiens in Picardy, was a man of great zeal, courage, and piety. He had made a pilgrimage to the holy ſepulchre at Jeruſalem, and beheld, with indignation, the cruel manner in which the Chriſtians were treated by the Infidels, who were in poſſeſſion of that place. He preached the cruſade over Europe by the Pope's permiſſion, and men of all ranks ſlew to arms with the utmoſt alacrity, to reſcue the Holy Land from the Infidels, and each bore the ſign of the croſs upon their right ſhoulder, as a mark of their devotion to the cauſe. In the midſt of this univerſal ardour that was diffuſed over Europe, men were not entirely forgetful of their temporal intereſts; for ſome, hoping a more magnificent ſettlement in the ſoft regions of Aſia, ſold their European property for whatever they could obtain, contented with receiving any thing for what they were predetermined to relinquiſh. Among the princes who felt and acknowledged this general ſpirit of enterprize, was Robert duke of Normandy. The Cruſade was entirely adapted to his inclinations, and his circumſtances; he was brave, zealous, covetous of glory, poor, harraſſed by inſurrections, and, what was more than all, naturally fond of change. In order, therefore, to ſupply money to defray the neceſſary charges of ſo expenſive an undertaking, he [Page 37] offered to mortgage his dukedom of Normandy to his brother Rufus for a ſtipulated ſum of money. This ſum, which was no greater than ten thouſand marks, was readily promiſed by Rufus, whoſe ambition was upon the watch to ſeize every advantage.

But though the ceſſation of Maine and Normandy, greatly increaſed the king's territories, they added but little to his real power, as his new ſubjects were compoſed of men of independent ſpirits, more ready to diſpute than to obey his commands. Many were the revolts and inſurrections which he was obliged to quell in perſon; and no ſooner was one conſpiracy ſuppreſſed than another roſe to give him freſh diſquietude.

However Rufus proceeded, careleſs of approbation or cenſure; and only intent upon extending his dominions, either by purchaſe or conqueſt. The earl of Poictiers and Guienne, enflamed with a deſire of going upon the Cruſade, had gathered an immenſe multitude for that expedition, but wanted money to forward his preparations. He had recourſe, therefore, to Rufus; and offered to mortgage all his dominions, without much conſidering what would become of his unhappy ſubjects that he thus diſpoſed of. The king accepted this offer with his uſual avidity; and had prepared a fleet, and an army, in order to take poſſeſſion, of the rich provinces thus conſigned to his truſt. But an accident put an end to all his ambitious projects; he was ſhot by an arrow that Sir Walter Tyrrel diſcharged at a deer in the New Foreſt, which glancing from a tree, ſtruck the king to the heart. He dropt dead inſtantaneouſly; while the innocent author of his death, terrified at the accident, put ſpurs to his horſe, haſtened to the ſea-ſhore, embarked for France, and joined the Cruſade that was then ſetting out for Jeruſalem.

1.6. CHAP. VI. HENRY I. ſurnamed BEAUCLERC.

[Page 38]

HENRY, the late king's younger brother, who had been hunting in the New Foreſt, when Rufus was ſlain, took the earlieſt advantage of the occaſion, and haſtening to Wincheſter, reſolved to ſecure the royal treaſure, which he knew to be the beſt aſſiſtant in ſeconding his aims. The barons, as well as the people, acquieſced in a claim which they were unprovided to reſiſt, and yielded obedience, from the fears of immediate danger.

Henry, to ingratiate himſelf with the people, expelled from court all the miniſters of his brother's debauchery and arbitrary power. One thing only remained to confirm his claims without danger of a rival. The Engliſh ſtill remembered their Saxon monarchs with gratitude, and beheld them excluded the throne with regret. There ſtill remained ſome of the deſcendants of that favourite line; and, among others, Matilda, the niece of Edgar Atheling, which lady, having declined all pretenſions to royalty, was bred up in a convent, and had actually taken the veil. Upon her Henry firſt fixed his eyes as a proper conſort, by whoſe means, the long breach between the Saxon and Norman intereſts would be finally united. It only remained to get over the ſcruple of her being a nun: but this a council, devoted to his intereſts, readily admitted; and Matilda being pronounced free to marry, the nuptials were celebrated with great pomp and ſolemnity.

It was at this unfavourable juncture, that Robert returned from abroad, and after taking poſſeſſion of [Page 39] his native dominions, laid his claim to the crown of England. But, propoſals for an accommodation being made, it was ſtipulated, that Robert, upon the payment of a certain ſum, ſhould reſign his pretenſions to England; and that if either of the princes died without iſſue, the other ſhould ſucceed to his dominions. This treaty being ratified, the armies on each ſide were diſbanded; and Robert, having lived two months in the utmoſt harmony with his brother, returned in peacc to his own dominions.

But Robert's indiſcretion ſoon rendered him unfit to govern any ſtate: he was totally averſe to buſineſs, and only ſtudious of the more ſplendid amuſements or employments of life. His ſervants pillaged him without compunction; and he is deſcribed as lying whole days a-bed for want of cloaths, of which they had robbed him. His ſubjects were treated ſtill more deplorably, for being under the command of petty and rapacious tyrants, who plundered them without mercy, the whole country was become a ſcene of violence and depredation. It was in this miſerable exigence, that the Normans at length had recourſe to Henry, from whoſe wiſe adminiſtration of his own dominions, they expected a ſimilitude of proſperity, ſhould he take the reins of theirs. Henry very readily promiſed to redreſs their grievances, as he knew it would be the direct method to ſecond his own ambition. The year enſuing, therefore, he landed in Normandy with a ſtrong army, took ſome of the principal towns; and a battle enſuing, Robert's forces were totally overthrown, and he himſelf taken priſoner, with near ten thouſand of his men, and all the conſiderable barons who had adhered to his misfortunes. This victory was followed by the final reduction of Normandy, while Henry returned in triumph to England, leading with him his captive brother, who, after a life of bravery, generoſity, and truth, now found himſelf not only [Page 40] deprived of his patrimony and his friends, but alſo of his freedom. Henry, unmindful of his brother's former magnanimity with regard to him, detained him a priſoner during the remainder of his life, which was no leſs than twenty-eight years; and he died in the caſtle of Cardiff, in Glamorganſhire. It is even ſaid by ſome, that he was deprived of his ſight by a redhot copper baſon applied to his eyes; while his brother attempted to ſtifle the reproaches of his conſcience, by founding the abbey of Reading, which was then conſidered as a ſufficient atonement for every degree of barbarity.

Fortune now ſeemed to ſmile upon Henry, and promiſe a long ſucceſſion of felicity. He was in peaceable poſſeſſion of two powerful ſtates, and had a ſon who was acknowledged undiſputed heir, arrived at his eighteenth year, whom he loved moſt tenderly. His daughter, Matilda, was alſo married to the emperor Henry V. of Germany, and ſhe had been ſent to that court while yet but eight years old, for her education. All his proſpects, however, were at once clouded by unforeſeen misfortunes and accidents, which tinctured his remaining years with miſery. The king, from the facility with which he uſurped the crown, dreading that his family might be ſubverted with the ſame eaſe, took care to have his ſon recognized as his ſucceſſor by the ſtates of England, and carried him over to Normandy to receive the homage of the barons of that duchy. After performing this requiſite ceremony, Henry, returning triumphantly to England, brought with him a numerous retinue of the chief nobility, who ſeemed to ſhare in his ſucceſſes. In one of the veſſels of the fleet, his ſon, and ſeveral young noblemen, the companions of his pleaſures, went together to render the paſſage more agreeable. The king ſet ſail for Barfleur, and was ſoon carried by a fair wind out of ſight of land. The prince was detained by ſome accident; and his ſailors, as [Page 41] well as their captain, Fitz-Stephen, having ſpent the interval in drinking, became ſo diſordered, that they ran the ſhip upon a rock, and immediately it was daſhed to pieces. The prince was put into the boat, and might have eſcaped, had he not been called back by the cries of Maude, his natural ſiſter. He was at firſt conveyed out of danger himſelf, but could not leave a perſon ſo dear to periſh without an effort to ſave her. He, therefore, prevailed upon the ſailors to row back and take her in. The approach of the boat, giving ſeveral others, who had been left upon the wreck, the hopes of ſaving their lives, numbers leaped in, and the whole went to the bottom. Above an hundred and forty young noblemen of the principal families of England and Normandy, were loſt on this occaſion. A butcher of Rouen was the only perſon on board who eſcaped; he clung to the maſt, and was taken up the next morning by ſome fiſhermen. Fitz-Stephen, the captain, while the butcher was thus buffetting the waves for his life, ſwam up to him, and enquired if the prince was yet living; when being told that he had periſhed, then I will not out-live him, ſaid the captain, and immediately ſunk to the bottom. The ſhrieks of theſe unfortunate people were heard from the ſhore, and the noiſe even reached the king's ſhip, but the cauſe was then unknown. Henry entertained hopes for three days, that his ſon had put into ſome diſtant port of England; but when certain intelligence of the calamity was brought him, he fainted away, and was never ſeen to ſmile from that moment to the day of his death, which followed ſome time after at St. Dennis, a little town in Normandy, from eating too plentiful of lampreys, a diſh he was particularly fond of. He died in the ſixty-ſeventh year of his age, and the thirty-fifth of his reign, leaving by will, his daughther Matilda, heireſs of all his dominions.


[Page 42]

NO ſooner was the king known to be dead, than Stephen, ſon of Adela, the king's ſiſter, and the count of Blois, conſcious of his own power and influence, reſolved to ſecure to himſelf the poſſeſſion of what he ſo long deſired. He immediately haſtened from Normandy, and arriving at London, was immediately ſaluted king by all the lower ranks of people. Being thus ſecured of the people, his next ſtep was to gain over the clergy; and, for that purpoſe, his brother, the biſhop of Wincheſter, exerted all his influence among them, with good ſucceſs. Thus was Stephen made king, by one of thoſe ſpeedy revolutions which ever mark the barbarity of a ſtate in which they are cuſtomary.

The firſt acts of an uſurper are always popular. Stephen, in order to ſecure his tottering throne, paſſed a charter, granting ſeveral privileges to the different orders of the ſtate. To the nobility, a permiſſion to hunt in their own foreſts; to the clergy, a ſpeedy filling of all vacant benefices; and to the people, a reſtoration of the laws of Edward the Confeſſor. To fix himſelf ſtill more ſecurely, he took poſſeſſion of the royal treaſures at Wincheſter, and had his title ratified by the pope with a part of the money.

It was not long, however, that Matilda delayed aſſerting her claim to the crown. She landed upon the coaſt of Suſſex, aſſiſted by Robert, earl of Glouceſter, natural ſon to the late king. The whole of Matilda's retinue, upon this occaſion, amounted to no more than an hundred and forty knights, who immediately took poſſeſſion of Arundel caſtle; but the nature of her claims ſoon encreaſed the number of her [Page 43] partizans, and her forces every day ſeemed to gain ground upon thoſe of her antagoniſt. Mean time Stephen, being aſſured of her arrival, flew to beſiege Arundel, where ſhe had taken refuge, and where ſhe was protected by the queen dowager, who ſecretly favoured her pretenſions. This fortreſs was too feeble to promiſe a long defence; and would have been ſoon taken, had it not been repreſented to the king, that, as it was a caſtle belonging to the queen dowager, it would be an infringement on the reſpect due to her to attempt taking it by force. There was a ſpirit of generoſity mixed with the rudeneſs of the times, that unaccountably prevailed in many tranſactions; Stephen permitted Matilda to come forth in ſafety, and had her conveyed with ſecurity to Briſtol, another fortreſs equally ſtrong with that from whence he permitted her to retire. It would be tedious to relate the various ſkirmiſhes on either ſide, in purſuance of their reſpective pretenſions; it will ſuffice to ſay, that Matilda's forces encreaſed every day, while her antagoniſt ſeemed every hour to become weaker, and a victory gained by the queen threw Stephen from the throne, and exalted Matilda in his room. Matilda was crowned at Wincheſter with all imaginable ſelemnity.

Matilda, however, was unfit for government. She affected to treat the nobility with a degree of diſdain, to which they had long been unaccuſtomed; ſo that the fickle nation once more began to pity their depoſed king, and to repent the ſteps they had taken in her favour. The biſhop of Wincheſter was not remiſs in ſomenting theſe diſcontents; and when he found the people ripe for a tumult, detached a party of his friends and vaſſals to block up the city of London, where the queen then reſided. At the ſame time, meaſures were taken to inſtigate the Londoners to a revolt, and to ſeize her perſon. Matilda having timely notice of this conſpiracy, fled to Wincheſter, [Page 44] whither the biſhop, ſtill her ſecret enemy, followed her, watching an opportunity to ruin her cauſe. His party was ſoon ſufficiently ſtrong to bid the queen open defiance; and to beſiege her in the very place where ſhe firſt received his benediction. There ſhe continued for ſome time, but the town being preſſed by famine, ſhe was obliged to eſcape, while her brother, the earl of Glouceſter, endeavouring to follow, was taken priſoner, and exchanged for Stephen, who ſtill continued a captive. Thus a ſudden revolution once more took place; Matilda was depoſed, and obliged to ſeek for ſafety in Oxford. Stephen was again recognized as king, and taken from his dungeon to be placed on the throne!

But he was now to enter the liſts with a new oppoſer, who was every day coming to maturity, and growing more formidable. This was Henry, the ſon of Matilda, who had now reached his ſixteenth year; and gave the greateſt hopes of being one day a valiant leader, and a conſummate politician.

With the wiſhes of the people in his favour, young Henry was reſolved to reclaim his hereditary kingdom▪ and to diſpute once more Stephen's uſurped pretenſions, and accordingly made an invaſion on England, where he was immediately joined by almoſt all the barons of the kingdom.

In the mean time Stephen, alarmed at the power and popularity of his young rival, tried every method to anticipate the purpoſe of his invaſion; but finding it impoſſible to turn the torrent, he was obliged to have recourſe to treaty. It was, therefore, agreed by all parties, that Stephen ſhould reign during his life; and that juſtice ſhould be adminiſtered in his name. That Henry ſhould, on Stephen's death, ſucceed to the kingdom; and William, Stephen's ſon, ſhould inherit Boulogne and his patrimonial eſtate. After all the barons had ſworn to this treaty, which filled the whole kingdom with joy, Henry evacuated [Page 45] England; and Stephen returned to the peaceable enjoyment of his throne. His reign, however, was ſoon after terminated by his death, which happened about a year after the treaty, at Canterbury, where he was interred.


THE firſt act of Henry's government gave the people an happy omen of his future wiſe adminiſtration. Conſcious of his power, he began to correct thoſe abuſes, and to reſume thoſe privileges, which had been extorted from the weakneſs or the credulity of his predeceſſors. He immediately diſmiſſed all thoſe mercenary ſoldiers who committed infinite diſorders in the nation. He reſumed many of thoſe benefactions which had been made to churches and monaſteries in the former reigns. He gave charters to ſeveral towns, by which the citizens claimed their freedom and privileges, independent of any ſuperior but himſelf. Theſe charters were the groundwork of Engliſh liberty. The ſtruggles which had before this time been, whether the king or the barons, or the clergy, ſhould be deſpotic over the people, now began to aſſume a new aſpect; and a fourth order, namely, that of the more opulent of the people, began to claim a ſhare in adminiſtration. Thus was the feudal government at firſt impaired; and liberty began to be more equally diffuſed throughout the nation.

Henry being thus become the moſt powerful prince of his age, the undiſputed monarch of England, poſſeſſed o [...] more than a third of France, and having humbled the barons that would circumſcribe his power, he might naturally be expected to reign with [Page 46] very little oppoſition for the future. But it happened otherwiſe. He found the ſevereſt mortifications from a quarter where he leaſt expected reſiſtance.

The famous Thomas a Becket, the firſt man of Engliſh extraction, who had ſince the Norman conqueſt, riſen to any ſhare of power, was the ſon of a citizen of London. Having received his early education in the ſchools of that metropolis, he reſided ſome time at Paris; and on his return became clerk in the ſheriff's office. From that humble ſtation he roſe through the gradations of office, until at laſt he was made archbiſhop of Canterbury, a dignity ſecond only to that of the king.

No ſooner was he fixed in this high ſtation, which rendered him for life the ſecond perſon in the kingdom, than he endeavoured to retrieve the character of ſanctity, which his former levities might have appeared to oppoſe. He was in his perſon the moſt mortified man that could be ſeen. He wore ſackcloth next his ſkin. He changed it ſo ſeldom, that it was filled with dirt and vermin. His uſual diet was bread, his drink water; which he rendered further unpalatable, by the mixture of unfavoury herbs. His back was mangled with frequent diſcipline. He every day waſhed on his knees the feet of thirteen beggars. Thus pretending to ſanctity, he ſet up for being a defender of the privileges of the clergy, which had for a long time become enormous, and which it was Henry's aim to abridge.

An opportunity ſoon offered, that gave him a popular pretext for beginning his intended reformation. A man in holy orders had debauched the daughter of a gentleman in Worceſterſhire; and then murdered the father, to prevent the effects of his reſentment. The atrociouſneſs of the crime produced a ſpirit of indignation among the people; and the king inſiſted that the aſſaſſin ſhould be tried by [Page 47] the civil magiſtrate. This Becket oppoſed, alledging the privileges of the church.

In order to determine this matter, the king ſummoned a general council of the nobility and prelates at Clarendon, to whom he ſubmitted this great and important affair, and deſired their concurrence. Theſe councils ſeem at that time convened rather to give authenticity to the king's decrees, than to enact laws that were to bind their poſterity. A number of regulations were there drawn up, which were afterwards well known under the title of the Conſtitutions of Clarendon, and were then voted without oppoſition. By theſe regulations, it was enacted, that clergymen accuſed of any crime ſhould be tried in the civil courts; that laymen ſhould not be tried in the ſpiritual courts, except by legal and reputable witneſſes. Theſe with ſome others of leſs conſequence, or implied in the above to the number of ſixteen, were readily ſubſcribed to by all the biſhops preſent; Becket himſelf, who at firſt ſhewed ſome reluctance, added his name to the number. But Alexander, who was then pope, condemned them in the ſtrongeſt terms, abrogated, annulled, and rejected them.

This produced a conteſt between the king and Becket, who having attained the higheſt honours the monarch could beſtow, took part with his holineſs. In the midſt of this diſpute Becket, with an intrepidity peculiar to himſelf, arraying himſelf in his epiſcopal veſtments, and with the croſs in his hand, went forward to the king's palace, and entering the royal apartments, ſate down, holding up the croſs as his banner of protection. There he put himſelf, in the moſt ſolemn manner, under the protection of the ſupreme pontiff; and upon receiving a refuſal to leave the kindom, he ſecretly withdrew in diſguiſe, and at laſt ſound means to croſs over to the continent.

[Page 48] The intrepidity of Becket, joined to his apparent ſanctity, gained him a very favourable reception upon the continent, both from the people and their governors.

The pope and he were not remiſs to retort their fulminations, and to ſhake the very foundation of the king's authority. Becket compared himſelf to Chriſt, who had been condemned by a lay tribunal; and who was crucified a-new in the preſent oppreſſions under which the church laboured. But he did not reſt in complaints only. He iſſued out a cenſure, excommunicating the king's chief miniſters by name, all that were concerned in ſequeſtring the revenues of his ſee, and all who obeyed or favoured the conſtitutions of Clarendon.

Frequent attempts, indeed, were made towards an accommodation; but the mutual jealouſies that each bore to the other, and their anxiety not to loſe the leaſt advantage in the negociation, often protracted this deſirable treaty.

At length, however, the mutual aim of both made a reconciliation neceſſary; but nothing could exceed the inſolence with which Becket conducted himſelf upon his firſt landing in England. Inſtead of retiring quietly to his dioceſe, with that modeſty which became a man juſt pardoned by his king, he made a progreſs through Kent, in all the ſplendor and magnificence of a ſovereign pontiff. As he approached Southwark, the clergy, the laity, men of all ranks and ages, came forth to meet him, and celebrated his triumphal entry with hymns of joy. Thus, confident of the voice and the hearts of the people, he began to launch forth his thunders againſt thoſe who had been his former oppoſers. The archbiſhop of York, who had crowned Henry's-eldeſt ſon in his abſence, was the firſt againſt whom he denounced ſentence of ſuſpenſion. The biſhops of London and Saliſbury he actually excommunicated. One man [Page 49] he excommunicated for having ſpoken againſt him; and another, for having cut off the tail of one of his horſes.

Henry was then in Normandy, while the primate was thus triumphantly parading through the kingdom; and it was not without the utmoſt indignation that he received information of his turbulent inſolence. When the ſuſpended and excommunicated prelates arrived with their complaints, his anger knew no bounds. He broke forth into the moſt acrimonious expreſſions againſt that arrogant churchman, whom he had raiſed from the loweſt ſtation, to be the plague of his life, and the continual diſturber of his government. The archbiſhop of York remarked to him, that ſo long as Becket lived, he could never expect to enjoy peace or tranquility; and the king himſelf burſt out into an exclamation, that he had no friends about him, or he would not ſo long have been expoſed to the inſults of that ungrateful hypocrite. Theſe words excited the attention of the whole court; and armed four of his moſt reſolute attendants, to gratify their monarch's ſecret inclinations. The conſpirators being joined by ſome aſſiſtants at the place of their meeting, proceeded to Canterbury with all that haſte their bloody intentions required. Advancing directly to Becket's houſe, and entering his apartment, they reproached him very fiercely for the raſhneſs and the inſolence of his conduct. During their altercation, the time approached for Becket to aſſiſt at veſpers, whither he went unguarded, the conſpirators following and preparing for their attempt. As ſoon as he had reached the altar, where it is juſt to think he aſpired at the glory of martyrdom, they all fell upon him; and having cloven his head with repeated blows, he dropt down dead before the altar of St. Benedict, which was beſmeared with his blood and brains.

[Page 48] [...] [Page 49] [...]

[Page 50] Nothing could exceed the king's conſternation upon receiving the firſt news of this prelate's cataſtrophe. He was inſtantly ſenſible that the murder would be ultimately imputed to him; and at length, in order to divert the minds of the people to a different object, he undertook an expedition againſt Ireland.

Ireland was at that time in pretty much the ſame ſituation that England had been, after the firſt invaſion of the Saxons. They had been early converted to Chriſtianity; and, for three or four centuries after, poſſeſſed a very large proportion of the learning of the times. Being undiſturbed by foreign invaſions, and perhaps too poor to invite the rapacity of conquerors, they enjoyed a peaceful life, which they gave up to piety, and ſuch learning as was then thought neceſſary to promote it. Of their learning, their arts, their piety, and even their poliſhed manners, too many monuments remain to this day for us to make the leaſt doubt concerning them; but it is equally true, that in time they fell from theſe advantages; and their degenerate poſterity, at the period we are now ſpeaking of, were wrapt in the darkeſt barbarity.

At the time when Henry firſt planned the invaſion of the iſland, it was divided into five principalities, namely, Leinſter, Meath, Munſter, Ulſter, and Connaught; each governed by its reſpective monarch. As it had been uſual for one or other of thoſe to take the lead in their wars, he was denominated ſole monarch of the kingdom, and poſſeſſed of a power reſembling that of the early Saxon monarchs in England. Roderic O Connor, king of Connaught, was then advanced to this dignity, and Dermot M'Morrogh was king of Leinſter. This laſt named prince, a weak, licentious tyrant, had carried off and raviſhed the daughter of the king of Meath, who being ſtrengthened by the alliance of the king [Page 51] of Connaught, invaded the raviſher's dominions, and expelled him from his kingdom. This prince, thus juſtly puniſhed, had recourſe to Henry, who was at that time in Guienne; and offered to hold his kingdom of the Engliſh crown, in caſe he recovered it by the king's aſſiſtance. Henry readily accepted the offer; but being at that time embarraſſed by more near intereſts, he only gave Dermot letters patent, by which he empowered all his ſubjects to aid the Iriſh prince in the recovery of his dominions. Dermot, relying on this authority, returned to Briſtol, where, after ſome difficulty, he formed a treaty with Richard, ſurnamed Strongbow, earl of Pembroke, who agreed to re-inſtate him in his dominions, upon condition of his being married to his daughter Eva, and declared heir of all his territory. Being thus aſſured of aſſiſtance, he returned privately to Ireland, and concealed himſelf during the winter, in the monaſtery of Ferns, which he had founded. Robert Fitzſtephens was the firſt knight who was able, the enſuing ſpring, to fulfil his engagements, by landing with an hundred and thirty knights, ſixty eſquires, and three hundred archers. They were ſoon after joined by Maurice Pendergaſt, who, about the ſame time, brought over ten knights, and ſixty archers; and with this ſmall body of forces they reſolved on beſieging Wexford, which was to be theirs by treaty. This town was quickly reduced; and the adventurers being reinforced by another body of men to the amount of an hundred and fifty, under the command of Maurice Fitzgerald, compoſed an army that ſtruck the barbarous natives with awe. Roderic, the chief monarch of the iſland, ventured to oppoſe them, but he was defeated; and ſoon after the prince of Oſſory was obliged to ſubmit, and give hoſtages for his future conduct.

Dermot being thus re-inſtated in his hereditary dominions, ſoon began to conceive hopes of extending [Page 52] the limits of his power, and making himſelf maſter of Ireland. With theſe views, he endeavoured to expedite Strongbow; who, being perſonally prohibited by the king, was not yet come over. Dermot tried to inflame his ambition by the glory of the conqueſt; and his avarice by the advantages it would procure. He expatiated on the cowardice of the natives, and the certainty of his ſucceſs. Strongbow firſt ſent over Raymond, one of his retinue, with ten knights and ſeventy archers; and receiving permiſſion ſhortly after for himſelf, he landed with two hundred horſe, and an hundred archers. All theſe Engliſh forces now joining together, became irreſiſtible; and though the whole number did not amount to a thouſand, yet ſuch was the barbarous ſtate of the natives, that they were every where put to the rout. The city of Waterford quickly ſurrendered; Dublin was taken by aſſault; and Strongbow, ſoon after marrying Eva according to treaty, became maſter of the kingdom of Leinſter upon Dermot's deceaſe.

The iſland being thus in a manner wholly ſubdued, for nothing was capable of oppoſing the further progreſs of the Engliſh arms, Henry became willing to ſhare in perſon thoſe honours, which the adventurers had already ſecured. He, therefore, ſhortly after landed in Ireland, at the head of five hundred knights and ſome ſoldiers; not ſo much to conquer a diſputed territory, as to take poſſeſſion of a ſubjected kingdom. Thus after a trifling effort, in which very little money was expended, and little blood ſhed, that beautiful iſland became an appendage to the Engliſh crown, and as ſuch it has ever ſince continued, with unſhaken fidelity.

The joy which this conqueſt diffuſed was very great; but troubles of a domeſtic nature ſerved to render the remaining part of Henry's life a ſcene of turbulence and diſquietude.

Among the few vices aſcribed to this monarch, [Page 53] unlimited gallantry was one. Queen Eleanor, whom he had married from motives of ambition, and who had been divorced from her former royal conſort for her incontinence, was long become diſagreeable to Henry; and he ſought in others thoſe ſatisfactions he could not find with her. Among the number of his miſtreſſes, Roſamond Clifford, better known by the name of Fair Roſamond, whoſe perſonal charms, and whoſe death make ſo conſpicuous a figure in the romances, and the ballads of the times, was the moſt remarkable. She is ſaid to have been the moſt beautiful woman that was ever ſeen in England, and that Henry loved her with a long and faithful attachment.

In order to ſecure her from the reſentment of his queen, who, from having been formerly incontinent herſelf, now became jealous of his incontinence, he concealed her in a labyrinth in Woodſtock Park, where he paſſed in her company his hours of vacancy and pleaſure. How long this ſecret intercourſe continued is not told us; but it was not ſo cloſely concealed but that it came to the queen's knowlege, who, as the accounts add, being guided by a clew of ſilk to her fair rival's retreat, obliged her, by holding a drawn dagger to her breaſt, to ſwallow poiſon. Whatever may be the veracity of this ſtory, certain it is, that this haughty woman, though formerly offenſive by her own gallantries, was now no leſs ſo by her jealouſy; and ſhe it was who firſt ſowed the ſeeds of diſſenſion between the king and his children.

Young Henry, the king's eldeſt ſon, was taught to believe himſelf injured; when, upon being crowned as partner in the kingdom, he was not admitted into a ſhare of the adminiſtration. His diſcontents were ſhared by his brothers Geoſſry and Richard, whom the queen perſuaded to aſſert their title to the territories aſſigned them. Queen Eleanor herſelf was meditating an eſcape to the court of France whither her ſons had retired, and had put on man's apparel [Page 54] for that purpoſe when ſhe was ſeized by the king's order and put into confinement. Thus Henry ſaw all his long perſpective of future happineſs totally clouded; his ſons, ſcarce yet arrived at manhood, eager to ſhare the ſpoils of their father's poſſeſſions; his queen warmly encouraging thoſe undutiful princes in their rebellion, and many potentates of Europe not aſhamed to lend them aſſiſtance to ſupport their pretenſions.

It was not long before the young princes had ſufficient influence upon the continent to raiſe a powerful confederacy in their favour.

Henry, therefore, knowing the influence of ſuperſtition over the minds of the people, and perhaps, apprehenſive that a part of his troubles aroſe from the diſpleaſure of heaven, reſolved to do penance at the ſhrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury, for that was the name given to Becket upon his canonization. As ſoon as he came within ſight of the church of Canterbury, alighting from his horſe, he walked barefoot towards the town, and proſtrated himſelf before the ſhrine of the ſaint. Next day he received abſolution; and, departing for London, was acquainted with the agreeable news of a victory over the Scots, obtained on the very day of his abſolution.

From that time Henry's affairs began to wear a better aſpect; the barons, who had revolted, or were preparing for a revolt, made inſtant ſubmiſſion, they delivered up their caſtles to the victor, and England, in a few weeks, was reſtored to perfect tranquility. Young Henry, who was ready to embark with a large army, to ſecond the efforts of the Engliſh inſurgents, finding all diſturbances quieted at home, abandoned all thoughts of the expedition.

This prince died ſoon after, in the twenty-ſixth year of his age, of a fever, at Martel, not without the deepeſt remorſe for his undutiful conduct towards his father.

As this prince leſt no poſterity, Richard was become [Page 55] heir in his room; and he ſoon diſcovered the ſame ardent ambition that had miſled his elder brother.

A cruſade having been once more projected, Richard, who had long wiſhed to have all the glory of ſuch an expedition to himſelf, and who could not bear to have even his father a partner in his victories, entered into a confederacy with the king of France, who promiſed to confirm him in thoſe wiſhes, at which he ſo ardently aſpired. By this, Henry found himſelf obliged to give up all hopes of taking the croſs, and compelled to enter upon a war with France and his eldeſt ſon, who were unnaturally leagued againſt him.

At laſt, however, a treaty was concluded, in which he was obliged to ſubmit to many mortifying conceſſions. But ſtill more ſo, when upon demanding a liſt of the barons that it was ſtipulated he ſhould pardon, he found his ſon John, his favourite child, among the number. He had long borne an infirm ſtate of body with calm reſignation; he had ſeen his children rebel without much emotion; but when he ſaw that child, whoſe intereſt always lay next his heart, among the number of thoſe who were in rebellion againſt him, he could no longer contain his indignation. He broke out into expreſſions of the utmoſt deſpair; curſed the day in which he had received his miſerable being; and beſtowed on his ungrateful children a malediction, which he never after could be prevailed upon to retract. The more his heart was diſpoſed to friendſhip and affection, the more he reſented this barba [...]ous return; and now, not having one corner in his heart where he could look for comfort, or ſly for refuge from his conflicting paſſions, he loſt all his former vivacity. A lingering ſever, cauſed by a broken heart, ſoon after terminated his life and his miſeries. He died at the caſtle of Chinon, near Saumur, in the fifty-eighth year of his age, and the thirty-fifth of [Page 56] his reign; in the courſe of which he diſplayed all the abilities of a politician, all the ſagacity of a legiſlator, and all the magnanimity of an hero.


RICHARD, upon his acceſſion to the throne, was ſtill inflamed with the deſire of going upon the cruſade, and at length, the king having got together a ſufficient ſupply for his undertaking; having even ſold his ſuperiority over the kingdom of Scotland, which had been acquired in the laſt reign, for a moderate ſum, he ſet out for the Holy Land, whither he was impelled by repeated meſſages from the king of France, who was ready to embark in the ſame enterprize.

The firſt place of rendzvous for the two armies of England and France was the plain of Verelay, on the borders of Burgundy, where, when Richard and Philip arrived, they found their armies amounting to an hundred thouſand fighting men. Here the French prince and the Engliſh entered into the the moſt ſolemn engagements of mutual ſupport; and having determined to conduct their armies to the Holy Land by ſea, they were obliged, however, by ſtreſs of weather, to take ſhelter, in Meſſina, the capital of Sicily, where they were detained during the whole winter. Richard took up his quarters in the ſuburbs, and poſſeſſed himſelf of a ſmall fort, which commanded the harbour. Philip quartered his troops in the town, and lived upon good terms with the Sicilian king.

Many were the miſtruſts, and the mutual reconciliations between theſe two monarchs, which were very probably inflamed by the Sicilian king's endeavours. [Page 57] At length, however, having ſettled all controverſies, they ſet ſail for the Holy Land, where the French arrived long before the Engliſh.

Upon the arrival of the Engliſh army in Paleſtine, however, fortune was ſeen to declare more openly in favour of the common cauſe. The French and Engliſh princes ſeemed to forget their ſeeret jealouſies, and to act in concert. But ſhortly after, Philip, from the bad ſtate of his health, returned to France, leaving Richard ten thouſand of his troops under the command of the duke of Burgundy. Richard, being now left ſole conductor of the war, went on from victory to victory. The Chriſtian adventurers, under his command, determined to beſiege the renowned city of Aſealon, in order to prepare the way for attacking Jeruſalem with greater advantage. Saladin, the moſt heroic of all the Saracen monarchs, was reſolved to diſpute their march, and placed himſelf up on the road with an army of three hundred thouſand men. This was a day equal to Richard's wiſhes, this an enemy worthy his higheſt ambition. The Engliſh cruſaders were victorious. Richard, when the wings of his army were defeated, led on the main body in perſon, and reſtored the battle. The Saracens fled in the utmoſt confuſion; and no leſs than forty thouſand of their number periſhed in the field of battle. Aſcalon ſoon ſurrendered after this victory; other cities of leſs note followed the example, and Richard was at laſt able to advance within ſight of Jeruſalem, the object of his long and ardent expectations. But, juſt at this glorious juncture his ambition was to ſuffer a total overthrow; upon reviewing his forces, and conſidering his abilities to proſecute the ſiege, he found that his army was ſo waſted with famine, fatigue, and even with victory, that they were neither able nor willing to ſecond the views of their commander. It appeared, [Page 58] therefore, abſolutely neceſſary to come to an accommodation with Saladin; and a truce for three years was accordingly concluded; in which it was agreed, that the ſea-port towns of Paleſtine ſhould remain in the hands of the Chriſtians; and that all of that religion ſhould be permitted to make their pilgrimage to Jeruſalem in perfect ſecurity.

Richard, having thus concluded his expedition with more glory than advantage, began to think of returning home: but being obliged to take the road through Germany, in the habit of a pilgrim, he was arreſted by Leopold, duke of Auſtria, who commanded him to be impriſoned and loaded with ſhackles, to the diſgrace of honour and humanity. The emperor ſoon after required the priſoner to be delivered up to him, and ſtipulated a large ſum of money to the duke as a reward for this ſervice. Thus the king of England, who had long filled the world with his fame, was baſely thrown into a dungeon, and loaded with irons, by thoſe who expected to reap a ſordid advantage from his misfortunes. It was a long time before his ſubjects in England knew what was become of their beloved monarch. So little intercourſe was there between different nations at that time, that this diſcovery is ſaid by ſome to have been made by a poor French minſtrel, who playing upon his harp near the fortreſs in which Richard was confined, a tune which he knew that unhappy monarch was fond of, he was anſwered by the king from within, who with his harp played the ſame tune; and thus diſcovered the place of his confinement.

However, the Engliſh, at length, prevailed upon this barbarous monarch, who now ſaw that he could no longer detain his priſoner, to liſten to terms of accommodation. A ranſom was agreed upon, which amounted to an hundred and fifty thouſand marks, or about three hundred thouſand pounds of our money; [Page 59] upon the payment of which Richard was once more reſtored to his expecting ſubjects.

Nothing could exceed the joy of the Engliſh, upon ſeeing their monarch return, after all his atchievements and ſufferings. He made his entry into London in triumph; and ſuch was the profuſion of wealth ſhewn by the citizens, that the German lords, who attended him, were heard to ſay, that if the emperor had known of their affluence, he would not ſo eaſily have parted with their king. He ſoon after ordered himſelf to be crowned a-new at Wincheſter. He convoked a general council at Nottingham, at which he confiſcated all his brother John's poſſeſſions, who had baſely endeavoured to prolong his captivity, and gone over to the king of France with that intent. However, he pardoned him ſoon after, with this generous remark, I wiſh I could as eaſily forget my brother's offence as he will my pardon.

Richard's death was occaſioned by a ſingular accident. A vaſſal of the crown had taken poſſeſſion of a treaſure, which was found by one of his peaſants in digging a field in France; and to ſecure the remainder, he ſent a part of it to the king. Richard, as ſuperior lord, ſenſible that he had a right to the whole, inſiſted on its being ſent him; and, upon refuſal, attacked the caſtle of Chalus, where he underſtood this treaſure had been depoſited. On the fourth day of the ſiege, as he was riding round the place to obſerve where the aſſault might be given with the faireſt probability of ſucceſs, he was aimed at by one Bertram de Jourdon, an archer, from the caſtle, and pierced in the ſhoulder with an arrow. The wound was not in itſelf dangerous; but an unſkilful ſurgeon endeavouring to diſengage the arrow from the fleſh, ſo rankled the wound that it mortified, and brought on fatal ſymptoms. Richard, when he found his end approaching, made a will, [Page 60] in which he bequeathed the kingdom, with all his treaſure, to his brother John, except a fourth part, which he diſtributed among his ſervants. He ordered alſo, that the archer who had ſhot him, ſhould be brought into his preſence, and demanded what injury he had done him that he ſhould take away his life? The priſoner anſwered with deliberate intrepidity; "You killed, with your own hands, my father, and my two brothers, and you intended to have hanged me. I am now in your power, and my torments may give you revenge; but I will endure them with pleaſure, ſince it is my conſolation, that I have rid the world of a tyrant." Richard, ſtruck with this anſwer, ordered the ſoldier to be preſented with one hundred ſhillings, and ſet at liberty; but Marcade, the general, who commanded under him, like a true ruffian, ordered him to be ſtead alive, and then hanged. Richard died in the tenth year of his reign, and the forty-ſecond of his age, leaving only one natural ſon, called Philip, behind him.

1.10. CHAP. X. JOHN.

JOHN, who was readily put in poſſeſſion of the Engliſh throne, loſt no time to ſecond his intereſt on the continent; and his firſt care was to recover the revolted provinces from young Arthur, his nephew. But from the pride and cruelty of his temper, he ſoon became hateful to his ſubjects; and his putting his nephew, Arthur, who had a right to the crown, to death, with his own hands, in priſon, ſerved to render him completely hateful.

[Page 61] Hitherto John was rather hateful to his ſubjects than contemptible; they rather dreaded than deſpiſed him. But he ſoon ſhewed that he might be offended. if not without reſentment at leaſt with impunity. It was the fate of this vicious prince to make thoſe the enemies of himſelf whom he wanted abilities to make the enemies of each other. The clergy had for ſome time acted as a community independent on the crown, and had their elections of each other generally confirmed by the pope, to whom alone they owned ſubjection. However, the election of archbiſhops had for ſome time been a continual ſubject of diſpute between the ſuffragan biſhops and the Auguſtine monks, and both had precedents to confirm their pretenſions. John ſided with the biſhops, and ſent two knights of his train, who were fit inſtruments for ſuch a prince, to expel the monks from their convent, and to take poſſeſſion of their revenues. The pope was not diſpleaſed at theſe diviſions, and inſtead of electing either of the perſons appointed by the contending parties, he appointed Stephen Langton, as archbiſhop of Canterbury. John, however, refuſing to admit the man of the pope's chuſing, the kingdom was put under aninterdict. This inſtrument of terror in the hands of the ſee of Rome, was calculated to ſtrike the ſenſes in the higheſt degree, and to operate upon the ſuperſtitious minds of the people. By it a ſtop was immediately put to divine ſervice, and to the adminiſtration of all the ſacraments, but baptiſm. The church doors were ſhut, the ſtatues of the ſaints were laid on the ground. The dead were refuſed Chriſtian burial, and were thrown into ditches and on the highways, without the uſual rites, or any funeral ſolemnity.

No ſituation could be more deplorable than that of John upon this occaſion. Furious at his indignities, jealous of his ſubjects, and apprehending an enemy in every face; it is ſaid, that fearing a conſpiracy againſt his life, he ſhut himſelf up a whole [Page 62] night in the caſtle of Nottingham, and ſuffered none to approach his perſon. But what was his conſternation when he found that the pope had actually given away his kingdom to the monarch of France, and that the prince of that country was actually preparing with an army to take poſſeſſion of his crown!

Isaac Taylor del et sculp.

Published by G. Kearsley in Fleet Street as the Act directs July 2d. 1774.

Figure 1. King John Signing Magna Charta.

‘"I John, by the grace of God, king of England, and lord of Ireland, in order to expiate my ſins, from my own free will, and the advice of my barons, give to the church of Rome, to pope Innocent, and his ſucceſſors, the kingdom of England, and all other prerogatives of my crown. I will hereafter hold them as the pope's vaſſal. I will be faithful to God, to the church of Rome, to the pope my maſter, and his ſucceſſors legitimately elected. I promiſe to pay him a tribute of a thouſand marks yearly; to wit, ſeven hundred for the kingdom of England, and three hundred for the kingdom of Ireland."’ Having thus done homage to the legate, and agreed to reinſtate Langton in the primacy, he received the crown, which he had been ſuppoſed to have forfeited, while the legate trampled under his feet the tribute which John had conſented to pay. Thus by this moſt ſcandalous conceſſion John for once more averted the threatened blow.

In this manner, by repeated acts of cruelty, by expeditions without effect, and humiliations without reſerve, John was become the deteſtation of all mankind.

The barons had been long forming a confederacy againſt him; but their union was broken, or their aims diſappointed, by various and unforeſeen accidents. At length, however, they aſſembled a large body of men at Stamford, and from thence, elated with their power, they marched to Brackley, about fifteen miles from Oxford, the place where the court then reſided. John, hearing of their approach, ſent the archbiſhop of Canterbury, the earl of Pembroke, and others of his council, to know the particulars of their requeſt, and what thoſe liberties were which they ſo earneſtly importuned him to grant. The barons delivered a ſchedule, containing the chief articles [Page 64] of their demands, and of which the former charters of Henry and Edward formed the groundwork. No ſooner were theſe ſhewn to the king, than he burſt into a furious paſſion, and aſked why the barons did not alſo demand his kingdom, ſwearing that he would never comply with ſuch exorbitant demands? But the confederacy was now too ſtrong to fear much from the conſequences of his reſentment? They choſe Robert Fitzwalter for their general, whom they dignified with the titles of ‘"Mareſchal of the army of God, and of the holy church,"’ and proceeded without further ceremony to make war upon the king. They beſieged Northampton, they took Bedford, they were joyfully received in London. They wrote circular letters to all the nobility and gentlemen who had not yet declared in their ſavour, and menaced their eſtates with devaſtation, in caſe of refuſal or delay.

John, ſtruck with terror, firſt offered to refer all differences to the pope alone, or to eight barons, four to be choſen by himſelf, and four by the confederates. This the barons ſcornfully rejected. He then aſſured them, that he would ſubmit at diſcretion; and that it was his ſupreme pleaſure to grant all their demands: a conference was accordingly appointed, and all things adjuſted for this moſt important treaty.

The ground where the king's commiſſioners met the barons was between Staines and Windſor, at a place called Runimede, ſtill held in reverence by poſterity, as the ſpot where the ſtandard of freedom was firſt erected in England. There the barons appeared, with a vaſt number of knights and warriors, on the fifteenth day of June, while thoſe on the king's part, came a day or two after. Both ſides encamped apart, like open enemies. The debate between power and precedent are generally but of ſhort continuance. The barons, determined on carrying their aims, would admit of few abatements; and [Page 65] the king's agents being for the moſt part in their intereſts, few debates enſued. After ſome days, the king, with a facility that was ſomewhat ſuſpicious, ſigned and ſealed the charter required of him; a charter which continues in force to this day, and is the famous bulwark of Engliſh liberty, which now goes by the name of MAGNA CHARTA. This famous deed, either granted or ſecured freedom to thoſe orders of the kingdom that were already poſſeſſed of freedom, namely, to the clergy, the barons, and the gentlemen; as for the inferior, and the greateſt part of the people, they were as yet held as ſlaves, and it was long before they could come to a participation of legal protection.

John however could not well brook thoſe conceſſions that were extorted from his fears, he therefore took the firſt opportunity of denying to be in the leaſt governed by them. This produced a ſecond civil war, in which the barons were obliged to have recourſe to the king of France for aſſiſtance. Thus England ſaw nothing but a proſpect of being every way undone. If John ſucceeded, a tyrannical and implacable monarch was to be their tormentor; if the French king ſhould prevail, the country was ever after to ſubmit to a more powerful monarchy, and was to become a province of France. What neither human prudence could foreſee, nor policy ſuggeſt, was brought about by an happy and unexpected event.

John had aſſembled a conſiderable army, with a view to make one great effort for the crown; and at the head of a large body of troops, reſolved to penetrate into the heart of the kingdom. With theſe reſolutions he departed from Lyn, which, for its fidelity, he had diſtinguiſhed with many marks of favour, and directed his route towards Lincolnſhire. His road lay along the ſhore, which was overflowed at high water; but not being appriſed of this, or being ignorant [Page 66] of the tide of the place, he loſt all his carriages, treaſure, and baggage, by its influx. He himſelf eſcaped with the greateſt difficulty, and arrived at the abbey of Swinſtead, where his grief for the loſs he had ſuſtained, and the diſtracted ſtate of his affairs, threw him into a fever, which ſoon appeared to be fatal. Next day, being unable to ride on horſeback, he was carried in a litter to the caſtle of Seaford, and from thence removed to Newark, where, after having made his will, he died in the fifty-firſt year of his age, and the eighteenth of his deteſted reign.


A CLAIM was, upon the death of John, made in favour of young Henry, the ſon of the late king, who was now but nine years of age. The earl of Pembroke, a nobleman of great worth and valour, who had faithfully adhered to John in all the fluctuations of his fortune, determined to ſupport his declining intereſts, and had him ſolemnly crowned by the biſhops of Wincheſter and Bath, at Glouceſter.

The young king was of a character the very oppoſite of his father; as he grew up to man's eſtate, he was found to be gentle, merciful, and humane; he appeared eaſy and good natured to his dependents, but no way formidable to his enemies. Without activity or vigour, he was unfit to conduct in war; without diſtruſt or ſuſpicion, he was impoſed upon in times of peace.

As weak princes are never without governing favourites, he firſt placed his affections on Hubert de Burgh, and he becoming obnoxious to the people, the place was ſoon ſupplied by Peter de Roches, [Page 67] biſhop of Wincheſter, a Poictevin by birth, a man remarkable for his arbitrary conduct, for his courage, and his abilities. Henry, in purſuance of this prelate's advice, invited over a great number of Poictevins, and other foreigners, who having neither principles nor fortunes at home, were willing to adopt whatever ſchemes their employer ſhould propoſe. Every office and command was beſtowed on theſe unprincipled ſtrangers, whoſe avarice and rapacity were exceeded only by their pride and inſolence. So unjuſt a partiality to ſtrangers very naturally excited the jealouſy of the barons; and they even ventured to aſſure the king, that if he did not diſmiſs all foreigners from court, they would drive both him and them out of the kingdom; but their anger was ſcarce kept within bounds when they ſaw a new ſwarm of theſe intruders come over from Gaſcony, with Iſabella, the king's mother, who had been ſome time before married to the count de la Marche. To theſe juſt cauſes of complaint were added the king's unſucceſsful expeditions to the continent, his total want of oeconomy, and his oppreſſive exactions, which were but the reſult of the former. The kingdom therefore waited with gloomy reſolution, reſolving to take vengeance, when the general diſcontent was arrived at maturity.

This imprudent preference, joined to a thouſand other illegal evaſions of juſtice, at laſt impelled Simon Montſort, earl of Leiceſter, to attempt an innovation in the government, and to wreſt the ſceptre from the feeble hand that held it. This nobleman was the ſon of the famous general who commanded againſt the Albigenſes, a ſect of enthuſiaſts that had been deſtroyed ſome time before in the kingdom of Savoy. He was married to the king's ſiſter; and, by his power and addreſs, was poſſeſſed of a ſtrong intereſt in the nation, having gained equally the affections of the great and the little.

[Page 68] The firſt place where the formidable confederacy which he formed firſt diſcovered itſelf, was in the parliament-houſe, where the barons appeared in complete armour. The king, upon his entry, aſked them what was their intention; to which they ſubmiſſively replied, to make him their ſovereign, by confirming his power, and to have their grievances redreſſed. Henry, who was ready enough to promiſe whatever was demanded, inſtantly aſſured them of his intentions to give all poſſible ſatisfaction; and for that purpoſe, ſummoned a parliament at Oxford, to digeſt a new plan of government, and to elect proper perſons, who were to be entruſted with the chief authority. This parliament, afterwards called the mad parliament, went expeditiouſly to work upon the buſineſs of reformation. Twenty-four barons were appointed, with ſupreme authority, to reform the abuſes of the ſtate, and Leiceſter was placed at their head. The whole ſtate in their hands underwent a complete alteration; all its former officers were diſplaced, and creatures of the twenty-four barons were put in their room. They not only abridged the authority of the king, but the efficacy of parliament, giving up to twelve perſons all parliamentary power between each ſeſſion. Thus theſe inſolent nobles, after having trampled upon the crown, threw proſtrate all the rights of the people, and a vile oligarchy was on the point of being eſtabliſhed for ever.

The firſt oppoſition that was made to theſe uſurpations, was from a power, which but lately began to take place in the conſtitution. The knights of the ſhire, who, for ſome time, had begun to be regularly aſſembled in a ſeparate houſe, now firſt perceived thoſe grievances, and complained againſt them. They repreſented, that their own intereſts and power ſeemed the only aim of all their decrees; and they even called upon the king's eldeſt ſon, prince Edward, [Page 69] to interpoſe his authority, and ſave the ſinking nation.

Prince Edward was at this time about twenty-two years of age. The hopes which were conceived of his abilities and his integrity rendered him an important perſonage in the tranſactions of the times, and in ſome meaſure atoned for his father's imbecility. He had at a very early age, given the ſtrongeſt proofs of courage, of wiſdom, and of conſtancy. At firſt, indeed, when applied to, appearing ſenſible of what his father had ſuffered by levity and breach of promiſe, he refuſed ſome time to liſten to the people's earneſt application; but being at laſt perſuaded to concur, a parliament was called, in which the king reſumed his former authority.

This being conſidered as a breach of the late convention, a civil war enſued, in which in a pitched battle, the earl of Leiceſter became victorious, and the king was taken priſoner, but ſoon after exchanged for prince Edward, who was to remain as an hoſtage to enſure the punctual obſervance of the former agreement.

With all theſe advantages however, Leiceſter was not ſo entirely ſecure, but that he ſtill feared the combinations of the foreign ſtates againſt him, as well as the internal machinations of the royal party. In order therefore to ſecure his ill-acquired power, he was obliged to have recourſe to an aid till now entirely unknown in England, namely, that of the body of the people. He called a parliament, where, beſides the barons of his own party, and ſeveral eccleſiaſtics, who were not immediate tenants of the crown, he ordered returns to be made of two knights from every ſhire; and alſo deputies from the boroughs, which had been hitherto conſidered as too inconſiderable to have a voice in legiſlation. This is the firſt confirmed outline of an Engliſh houſe of commons. The people [Page 70] had been gaining ſome conſideration ſince the gradual diminution of the force of the feudal ſyſtem.

This parliament, however, was found not ſo very complying as he expected. Many of the barons, who had hitherto ſtedfaſtly adhered to his party, appeared diſguſted at his immoderate ambition; and many of the people, who found that a change of maſters was not a change for happineſs, began to wiſh for the reeſtabliſhment of the royal family. In this exigence, Leiceſter finding himſelf unable to oppoſe the concurring wiſhes of the nation, was reſolved to make a merit of what he could not prevent; and he accordingly releaſed prince Edward from confinement, and had him introduced at Weſtminſter hall, where his freedom was confirmed by the unanimous voice of the barons. But though Leiceſter had all the popularity of reſtoring the prince, yet he was politic enough to keep him ſtill guarded by his emiſſaries, who watched all his motions, and fruſtrated all his aims.

Wherefore the prince upon bearing that the duke of Glouceſter was up in arms in his cauſe, he took an opportunity to eſcape from his guards, and put himſelf at the head of his party. A battle ſoon after enſued; but the earl's army having been exhauſted by famine on the mountains of Wales, were but ill able to ſuſtain the impetuoſity of young Edward's attack, who bore down upon them with incredible fury. During this terrible day, Leiceſter behaved with aſtoniſhing intrepidity; and kept up the ſpirit of the action from two o'clock in the afternoon, till nine at night. At laſt, his horſe being killed under him, he was compelled to fight on foot; and tho' he demanded quarter, the adverſe party refuſed it, with a barbarity common enough in the times we are deſcribing. The old king, who was placed in the front of the battle, was ſoon wounded in the ſhoulder; and not being known by his friends, he was on [Page 71] the point of being killed by a ſoldier; but crying out, I am Henry of Wincheſter the king, he was ſaved by a knight of the royal army. Prince Edward hearing the voice of his father, inſtantly ran to the ſpot where he lay, and had him conducted to a place of ſafety. The body of Leiceſter being found among the dead, was barbarouſly mangled by one Roger Mortimer; and then, with an accumulation of inhumanity, ſent to the wretched widow, as a teſtimony of the royal party's ſucceſs.

This victory proved deciſive; and the prince having thus reſtored peace to the kingdom, found his affairs ſo firmly eſtabliſhed, that he reſolved upon taking the croſs, which was at that time the higheſt object of human ambition.

In purſuance of this reſolution, Edward ſailed from England with a large army, and arrived at the camp of Lewis, the king of France, which lay before Tunis; and where he had the misfortune to hear of that good monarch's death before his arrival. The prince, however, no way diſcouraged by this event, continued his voyage, and arrived at the Holy Land in ſafety.

He was ſcarce departed upon this pious expedition, when the health of the old king began to decline; and he found not only his own conſtitution, but alſo that of the ſtate, in ſuch a dangerous ſituation, that he wrote letters to his ſon, preſſing him to return with all diſpatch. At laſt being overcome by the cares of government, and the infirmities of age, he ordered himſelf to be removed, by eaſy journies, from St. Edmund's to Weſtminſter, and that ſame night expired, in the ſixty-fourth year of his age, and the fifty-ſixth of his reign, the longeſt to be met with in the annals of England.


[Page 72]

WHILE the unfortunate Henry was thus vainly ſtruggling with the ungovernable ſpirit of his ſubjects, his ſon and ſucceſſor, Edward, was employed in the Holy Wars, where he revived the glory of the Engliſh name, and made the enemies of Chriſtianity tremble. He was ſtabbed however, by one of thoſe Mahometan enthuſiaſts, called Aſſaſſins, as he was one day ſitting in his tent, and was cured not without great difficulty. Some ſay that he owed his ſafety to the piety of Eleanora his wife, who ſucked the poiſon from the wound to ſave his life, at the hazard of her own.

Though the death of the late king happened while the ſucceſſor was ſo far from home, yet meaſures had been ſo well taken, that the crown was transferred with the greateſt tranquility.

As Edward was now come to an undiſputed throne, the oppoſite intereſts were proportionably feeble. The barons were exhauſted by long mutual diſſenſions; the clergy were divided in their intereſts, and agreed only in one point, to hate the pope, who had for ſome time drained them, with impunity: the people, by ſome inſurrections againſt the convents, appear to hate the clergy with equal animoſity. Theſe diſagreeing orders only concurred in one point, that of eſteeming and reverencing the king. He therefore thought this the moſt favourable conjuncture of uniting England with Wales. The Welſh had for many ages enjoyed their own laws, language, cuſtoms, and opinions. They were the remains of the ancient Britons, who had eſcaped the Roman and Saxon invaſions, and ſtill preſerved their freedom and [Page 73] their country, uncontaminated by the admiſſion of foreign conquerors. But as they were, from their number, incapable of withſtanding their more powerful neighbours on the plain, their chief defence lay in their inacceſſible mountains, thoſe natural bulwarks of the country. Whenever England was diſtreſſed by factions at home, or its forces called off to wars abroad, the Welſh made it a conſtant practice to pour in their irregular troops, and lay the open country waſte where-ever they came. Nothing could be more pernicious to a country than ſeveral neighbouring independent principalities, under different commanders, and purſuing different intereſts; the mutual jealouſies of ſuch were ſure to harraſs the people; and wherever victory was purchaſed, it was always at the expence of the general welfare. Senſible of this, Edward had long wiſhed to reduce that incurſive people, and had ordered Lewellyn to do homage for his territories; which ſummons the Welſh prince refuſed to obey, unleſs the king's own ſon ſhould be delivered as an hoſtage for his ſafe return. The king was not diſpleaſed at this refuſal, as it ſerved to give him a pretext for his intended invaſion. He therefore levied an army againſt Lewellyn, and marched into his country with certain aſſurance of ſucceſs. Upon the approach of Edward, the Welſh prince took refuge among the inacceſſible mountains of Snowdon, and there reſolved to maintain his ground, without truſting to the chance of a battle. Theſe were the ſteep retreats, that had for many ages before defended his anceſtors againſt all the attempts of the Norman and Saxon conquerors. But Edward, equally vigorous and cautious, having explored every part of his way, pierced into the very center of Lewellyn's territories, and approached the Welſh army in its laſt retreats. Here after extorting ſubmiſſion from the Welſh prince the king retired. But an idle prophecy, in which it was foretold by Merlin, [Page 74] that Lewellyn was to be the reſtorer of Brutus's empire in Britain, was an inducement ſufficiently ſtrong to perſuade this prince to revolt once more and hazard a deciſive battle againſt the Engliſh. With this view he marched into Radnorſhire; and paſſing the river Wey, his troops were ſurpriſed and defeated by Edward Mortimer, while he himſelf was abſent from his army, upon a conference with ſome of the barons of that country. Upon his return, ſeeing the dreadful ſituation of his affairs, he ran deſperately into the midſt of the enemy, and quickly found that death he ſo ardently ſought for. David, the brother of this unfortunate prince, ſoon after fell in the ſame cauſe; and with him expired the government, and the diſtinction of the Welſh nation. It was ſoon after united to the kingdom of England, made a principality, and given to the eldeſt ſon of the crown. Foreign conqueſts might add to the glory, but this added to the felicity of the kingdom. The Welſh were now blended with the conquerors; and in the revolution of a few ages, all national animoſity was entirely forgotten.

Soon after the death of Margaret, queen of Scotland, gave him hopes of adding alſo Scotland to his dominion. The death of this princeſs produced a moſt ardent diſpute about the ſucceſſion to the Scottiſh throne, being claimed by no leſs than twelve competitors. The claims however of all the other candidates were reduced to three; who were the deſcendants of the earl of Huntington by three daughters; John Haſtings, who claimed in right of his mother, as one of the co-heireſſes of the crown; John Baliol, who alledged his right, as being deſcended from the eldeſt daughter, who was his grandmother; and Robert Bruce, who was the actual ſon of the ſecond daughter. This diſpute being referred to Edwards deciſion, with a ſtrong degree of aſſurance, he claimed the crown for himſelf, and appointed Baliol his deputy.

[Page 75] Baliol being thus placed upon the Scottiſh throne, leſs as a king than as a vaſſal, Edward's firſt ſtep was ſufficient to convince that people of his intentions to ſtretch the prerogative to the utmoſt. Upon the moſt frivolous pretences, he ſent ſix different ſummonſes for Baliol to appear in London at different times, in one year; ſo that the poor Scottiſh king ſoon perceived that he was poſſeſſed of the name only, but not the authority of a ſovereign. Willing, therefore, to ſhake off the yoke of ſo troubleſome a maſter, Baliol revolted, and procured the pope's abſolution from his former oaths of homage.

But no power the Scotch could bring into the field was able to withſtand the victorious army of Edward. He overthrew their forces in many engagements, and thus becoming undiſputed maſter of the kingdom, he took every precaution to ſecure his title, and to aboliſh thoſe diſtinctions, which might be apt to keep the nation in its former independence. Baliol was carried a priſoner to London, and he carefully deſtroyed all records and monuments of antiquity, that inſpired the Scotch with a ſpirit of national pride.

Theſe expeditions, however, terminated rather in glory than advantage: the expences which were requiſite for carrying on the war, were not only burthenſome to the king, but even, in the event, threatened to ſhake him on his throne. In order at firſt to ſet the great machine in movement, he raiſed conſiderable ſupplies by means of his parliament; and that auguſt body was then firſt modelled by him into the form in which it continues to this day. As a great part of the property of the kingdom was, by the introduction of commerce, and the improvement of agriculture, transferred from the barons to the lower claſſes of the people, ſo their conſent was thought neceſſary for the raiſing any conſiderable ſupplies. For this reaſon, he iſſued writs to the ſheriffs, enjoining them to ſend to parliament along with two [Page 76] knights of the ſhire, (as in the former reign) two deputies from each borough within their county; and theſe provided with ſufficient powers from their conſtituents, to grant ſuch demands as they ſhould think reaſonable for the ſafety of the ſtate. One of the firſt efforts, therefore, was to oblige the king's council to ſign the Magna Charta, and to add a clauſe, to ſecure the nation for ever againſt all impoſitions and taxes, without the conſent of parliament. This the king's council (for Edward was at that time in Flanders) readily agreed to ſign; and the king himſelf, when it was ſent over to him, after ſome heſitation, thought proper to do the ſame. Theſe conceſſions he again confirmed upon his return; and though it is probable he was averſe to granting them, yet he was at laſt brought to give a plenary conſent to all the articles that were demanded of him. Thus, after the conteſt of an age, the Magna Charta was finally eſtabliſhed: nor was it the leaſt circumſtance in its favour, that its confirmation was procured from one of the greateſt and boldeſt princes that ever ſwayed the Engliſh ſceptre.

In the mean time, William Wallace, ſo celebrated in Scottiſh ſtory, attempted to reſcue Scotland from the Engliſh yoke He was younger ſon of a gentleman, who lived in the weſtern part of the kingdom. He was a man of a gigantic ſtature, incredible ſtrength, and amazing intrepidity; eagerly deſirous of independence, and poſſeſſed with the moſt diſintereſted ſpirit of patriotiſm. To this man had reſorted all thoſe who were obnoxious to the Engliſh government; the proud, the bold, the criminal, and the ambitious. Theſe, bred among dangers and hardſhips themſelves, could not forbear admiring in their leader a degree of patience, under fatigue and famine, which they ſuppoſed beyond the power of human nature to endure; he ſoon, therefore, became the principal object of their affection and their eſteem. [Page 77] His firſt exploits were confined to petty ravages, and occaſional attacks upon the Engliſh; but he ſoon overthrew the Engliſh armies, and ſlew their generals.

Edward, who had been over in Flanders, while theſe misfortunes happened in England, haſtened back with impatience to reſtore his authority, and ſecure his former conqueſts. He quickly levied the whole force of his dominions; and at the head of an hundred thouſand men, directed his march to the North, fully reſolved to take vengeance upon the Scots for their late defection.

A battle was fought at Falkirk, in which Edward gained a complete victory, leaving twelve thouſand of the Scotch, or, as ſome will have it, fifty thouſand, dead upon the field, while the Engliſh had not an hundred ſlain.

A blow ſo dreadful, had not as yet entirely cruſhed the ſpirit of the Scotch nation; and after a ſhort interval, they began to breathe from their calamities. Wallace, who had gained all their regards by his valour, ſhewed that he ſtill merited them more by his declining the rewards of ambition. Perceiving how much he was envied by the nobility, and knowing how prejudicial that envy would prove to the intereſts of his country, he reſigned the regency of the kingdom, and humbled himſelf to a private ſtation. He propoſed Cummin as the propereſt perſon to ſupply his room; and that nobleman endeavoured to ſhew himſelf worthy of this pre-eminence. He ſoon began to annoy the enemy; and not content with a defenſive war, made incurſions into the ſouthern counties of the kingdom, which Edward had imagined wholly ſubdued. They attacked an army of the Engliſh lying at Roſlin, near Edinburgh, and gained a complete victory.

But it was not eaſy for any circumſtances of bad fortune to repreſs the enterprizing ſpirit of the king. He aſſembled a great ſleet and army; and, entering [Page 78] the frontiers of Scotland, appeared with a force which the enemy could not think of reſiſting in the open field. Aſſured of ſucceſs, he marched along, and traverſed the kingdom from one end to the other, ravaging the open country, taking all the caſtles, and receiving the ſubmiſſions of all the nobles. There ſeemed to remain only one obſtacle to the final deſtruction of the Scottiſh monarchy, and that was William Wallace, who ſtill continued refractory; and wandering with a few forces from mountain to mountain, preſerved his native independence and uſual good fortune. But even their feeble hopes from him were ſoon diſappointed; he was betrayed into the king's hands by Sir John Monteith, his friend, whom he had made acquainted with the place of his concealment, being ſurprized by him as he lay aſleep in the neighbourhood of Glaſgow. The king, willing to ſtrike the Scotch with an example of ſeverity, ordered him to be conducted in chains to London, where he was hanged, drawn and quartered, with the moſt brutal ferocity.

Robert Bruce, who had been one of the competitors for the crown, but was long kept a priſoner in London, at length eſcaping from his guards, reſolved to ſtrike for his countries freedom. Having murdered one of the king's ſervants, he left himſelf no reſource, but to confirm, by deſperate valour, what he had begun in cruelty; and he ſoon expelled ſuch of the Engliſh forces, as had fixed themſelves in the kingdom. Soon after, he was ſolemnly crowned king, by the biſhop of St. Andrew's, in the abbey of Scone; and numbers flocked to his ſtandard, reſolved to confirm his pretenſions. Thus, after twice conquering the kingdom, and as often pardoning the delinquents; after having ſpread his victories in every quarter of the country, and receiving the moſt humble ſubmiſſions, the old king ſaw, that his whole work was to begin afreſh; and that nothing but the final deſtruction [Page 79] of the inhabitants could give him aſſurance of tranquility. But no difficulties could repreſs the arduous ſpirit of this monarch, who, tho' now verging towards his decline, yet reſolved to ſtrike a parting blow, and to make the Scotch once more tremble at his appearance. He vowed revenge againſt the whole nation; and averred, that nothing but reducing them to the completeſt bondage could ſatisfy his reſentment. He ſummoned his prelates, nobility, and all who held by knights ſervice, to meet him at Carliſle, which was appointed as the general rendezvous; and, in the mean time, he detached a body of forces before him into Scotland, under the command of Aymer de Valence, who began the threatened infliction by a terrible victory over Bruce, near Methuen, in Perthſhire. Immediately after this dreadful blow, the reſentful king himſelf appeared in perſon, entering Scotland with his army divided into two parts, and expecting to find, in the oppoſition of the people, a pretext for puniſhing them. But this brave prince, who was never cruel but from motives of policy, could not ſtrike the poor ſubmitting natives, who made no reſiſtance. His anger was diſappointed in their humiliations; and he was aſhamed to extirpate thoſe who only oppoſed patience to his indignation. His death put an end to the apprehenſions of the Scotch, and effectually reſcued their country from total ſubjection. He ſickened, and died at Carliſle, of a dyſentery; enjoining his ſon, with his laſt breath, to proſecute the enterprize, and never to deſiſt, till he had finally ſubdued the kingdom. He expired, July 7, 1307, in the ſixty-ninth year of his age, and the thirty-fifth of his reign: after having added more to the ſolid intereſts of the kingdom, than any of thoſe who went before, or ſucceeded him.

1.13. CHAP. XIII. EDWARD II. ſurnamed of CAERNARVON.

[Page 80]

EDWARD was in the twenty-third year of his age when he ſucceeded his father, of an agreeable figure, of a mild harmleſs diſpoſition, and apparently addicted to few vices. But he ſoon gave ſymptoms of his unfitneſs to ſucceed ſo great a monarch as his father; he was rather fond of the enjoyment of his power, than of ſecuring it; and, lulled by the flattery of his courtiers, he thought he had done enough for glory, when he had accepted the crown. Inſtead therefore of proſecuting the war againſt Scotland, according to the injunctions he had received from his dying father, he took no ſteps to check the progreſs of Bruce; his march into that country being rather a proceſſion of pageantry, than a warlike expedition.

Weak monarchs are ever governed by favourites, and the firſt Edward placed his affections upon was Piers Gaveſtone, the ſon of a Gaſcon knight, who had been employed in the ſervice of the late king. This young man was adorned with every accompliſhment of perſon and mind, that were capable of creating affection: but he was utterly deſtitute of thoſe qualities of heart and underſtanding that ſerve to procure eſteem. He was beautiful, witty, brave, and active; but then he was vicious, effeminate, debauched, and trifling. Theſe were qualities entirely adapted to the taſte of the young monarch, and he ſeemed to think no rewards equal to his deſerts. Gaveſtone on the other hand intoxicated with his power, became haughty and overbearing, and treated the Engliſh nobility, from whom it is probable he received marks of contempt, with ſcorn and deriſion. A [Page 81] conſpiracy, therefore, was ſoon formed againſt him, at the head of which queen Iſabel, and the earl of Lancaſter, a nobleman of great power, were aſſociated.

It was eaſy to perceive, that a combination of the nobles, while the queen ſecretly aſſiſted their deſigns, would be too powerful againſt the efforts of a weak king, and a vain favourite. The king timid and wavering, baniſhed him at their ſolicitation, and recalled him ſoon after. This was ſufficient to ſpread an alarm over the whole kingdom; [Note: A. D. 1312.] all the great barons flew to arms; and the earl of Lancaſter put himſelf at the head of this irreſiſtible confederacy. The unhappy Edward, inſtead of attempting to make reſiſtance, ſought only for ſafety: ever happy in the company of his favourite, he embarked at Tinmouth, and ſailed with him to Scarborough, where he left Gaveſtone, as in a place of ſafety; and then went back to York himſelf, either to raiſe an army to oppoſe his enemies; or, by his preſence, to allay their animoſity. In the mean time, Gaveſtone was beſieged in Scarborough by the earl of Pembroke; and had the garriſon been ſufficiently ſupplied with proviſions, that place would have been impregnable. But Gaveſtone, ſenſible of the bad condition of the garriſon, took the earlieſt opportunity to offer terms of capitulation. He ſtipulated, that he ſhould remain in Pembroke's hands as a priſoner for two months; and that endeavours ſhould be uſed, in the mean time, for a general accommodation. But Pembroke had no intention that he ſhould eſcape ſo eaſily; he ordered him to be conducted to the caſtle of Deddington, near Banbury, where, on pretence of other buſineſs, he left him with a feeble guard, which the earl of Warwick having notice of, he attacked the caſtle in which the unfortunate Gaveſtone was confined, and quickly made himſelf maſter of his perſon. The earls of Lancaſter, Hereford, and Arundel, were ſoon apprized of Warwick's ſucceſs, and [Page 82] informed that their common enemy was now in cuſtody in Warwick caſtle. Thither, therefore, they haſted with the utmoſt expedition, to hold a conſultation upon the fate of their priſoner. This was of no long continuance; they unanimouſly reſolved to put him to death, as an enemy to the kingdom, and gave him no time to prepare for his execution. They inſtantly had him conveyed to a place called Blacklow-hill, where a Welſh executioner, provided for that purpoſe, ſevered his head from the body.

To add to Edward's misfortunes, he ſoon after ſuffered a moſt terrible defeat from the Scotch army under Bruce, near Banochburn, and this drove him once more to ſeek for relief in ſome favourite's company. The name of this new favourite was Hugh Deſpenſer, a young man of a noble Engliſh family, of ſome merit, and very engaging accompliſhments. His father was a perſon of a much more eſtimable character than the ſon; he was venerable for his years, and reſpected through life for his wiſdom, his valour, and his integrity. But theſe excellent qualities were all diminiſhed and vilified, from the moment he and his ſon began to ſhare the king's favour, who even diſpoſſeſſed ſome lords unjuſtly of their eſtates, in order to accumulate them upon his favourite. This was a pretext the king's enemies had been long ſeeking for; the earls of Lancaſter and Hereford flew to arms; ſentence was procured from parliament of perpetual exile againſt the two Spenſers, and a forfeiture of their fortune and eſtates. The king however, at laſt rouſing from his lethargy, took the field in the defence of his beloved Spenſer, and at the head of thirty thouſand men preſſed the earl of Lancaſter ſo cloſely, that he had not time to collect his forces together; and flying from one place to another, he was at laſt ſtopt in his way towards Scotland by Sir Andrew Harcla, and made priſoner. As he had formerly ſhewn little mercy to Gaveſtone, there was [Page 83] very little extended to him upon this occaſion. He was condemned by a court-martial; and led, mounted on a lean horſe, to an eminence near Pomfret, in circumſtances of the greateſt indignity, where he was beheaded by a Londoner.

A rebellion, thus cruſhed, ſerved only to encreaſe the pride and rapacity of young Spenſer: moſt of the forfeitures were ſeized for his uſe; and in his promptitude to puniſh the delinquents, he was found guilty of many acts of rapine and injuſtice.

But he was now to oppoſe a more formidable enemy in queen Iſabella, a cruel haughty woman, who fled over to France, and refuſed to appear in England till Spenſer was removed from the royal preſence and baniſhed the kingdom. By this reply ſhe gained two very conſiderable advantages; ſhe became popular in England, where Spenſer was univerſally diſliked; and ſhe had the pleaſure of enjoying the company of a young nobleman, whoſe name was Mortimer, upon whom ſhe had lately placed her affections, and whom ſhe indulged with all the familiarities that her criminal paſſion could confer. The queen's court now, therefore, became a ſanctuary for all the male-contents who were baniſhed their own country, or who choſe to come over. Accordingly ſoon after, accompanied by three thouſand men at arms, ſhe ſet out from Dort harbour, and landed ſafely, without oppoſition, on the coaſt of Suffolk. She no ſooner appeared, than there ſeemed a general revolt in her ſavour; and the unfortunate king found the ſpirit of diſloyalty was not confined to the capital alone, but diſfuſed over the whole kingdom. He had placed ſome dependence upon the garriſon which was ſtationed in the caſtle of Briſtol, under the command of the elder Spenſer; but they mutinied againſt their governor, and that unfortunate favourite was delivered up, and condemned by the tumultuous barons to the moſt ignomimous death. He was hanged on a gibbet in his [Page 84] armour, his body was cut in pieces, and thrown to the dogs, and his head was ſent to Wincheſter, where it was ſet on a pole, and expoſed to the inſults of the populace.

Young Spenſer, the unhappy ſon, did not long ſurvive the father; he was taken, with ſome others who had followed the fortunes of the wretched king, in an obſcure convent in Wales, and the mercileſs victors reſolved to glut their revenge, in adding inſult to cruelty. The queen had not patience to wait the formality of a trial; but ordered him immediately to be led forth before the inſulting populace, and ſeemed to take a ſavage pleaſure in feaſting her eyes with his diſtreſſes. The gibbet erected for his execution was fifty feet high; his head was ſent to London, where the citizens received it in brutal triumph, and fixed it on the bridge. Several other lords alſo ſhared his fate; all deſerving pity indeed, had they not themſelves formerly juſtified the preſent inhumanity by ſetting a cruel example.

In the mean time the king, who hoped to find refuge in Wales, quickly was diſcovered, and delivered up to his adverſaries, who expreſſed their ſatisfaction in the groſſneſs of their treatment. He was conducted to the capital, amidſt the inſults and reproaches of the people, and confined in the Tower. A charge was ſoon after exhibited againſt him; in which no other crimes but his incapacity to govern, his indolence, his love of pleaſure, and his being ſwayed by evil counſellors, were objected againſt him. His depoſition was quickly voted by parliament; he was aſſigned a penſion for his ſupport, his ſon Edward, a youth of fourteen, was fixed upon to ſucceed him, and the queen was appointed regent during the minority.

[Note: A. D. 1327.]The depoſed monarch but a ſhort time ſurvived his misfortunes; he was ſent from priſon to priſon, a wretched outcaſt, and the ſport of his inhuman keepers. He had been at firſt [Page 85] conſigned to the cuſtody of the earl of Lancaſter; but this nobleman, ſhewing ſome marks of reſpect and pity, he was taken out of his hands, and delivered over to lord Berkeley, Montravers, and Gournay, who were entruſted with the charge of guarding him month about. Whatever his treatment from lord Berkeley might have been, the other two ſeemed reſolved that he ſhould enjoy none of the comforts of life, while in their cuſtody. They practiſed every kind of indignity upon him, as if their deſign had been to accelerate his death by the bitterneſs of his ſufferings. Among other acts of brutal oppreſſion, it is ſaid, that they ſhaved him for ſport in the open fields, uſing water from a neighbouring ditch. He is ſaid to have borne his former indignities with patience, but all fortitude forſook him upon this occaſion; he looked upon his mercileſs inſulters with an air of fallen majeſty, and burſting into tears, exclaimed, that the time might come, when he would be more decently attended. This, however, was but a vain expectation. As his perſecutors ſaw that his death might not arrive, even under every cruelty, till a revolution had been made in his favour, they reſolved to rid themſelves of their fears, by deſtroying him at once. Acordingly, his two keepers, Gournay and Montravers, came to Berkeley caſtle, where Edward was then confined; and having concerted a method of putting him to death without any external violence, they threw him on a bed, holding him down by a table, which they had placed over him. They then ran an horn pipe up his body, through which they conveyed a red hot iron; and thus burnt his bowels, without disfiguring his body. By this cruel artifice, they expected to have their crime concealed; but his horrid ſhrieks, which were heard at a diſtance from the caſtle, ſoon gave a ſuſpicion of the murder; and the whole was ſoon after divulged by the confeſſion of one of the accomplices. Misfortunes like his muſt ever create pity; and a puniſhment ſo [Page 86] diſproportionate to the ſufferer's guilt, muſt wipe away even many of thoſe faults of which Edward was juſtly culpable.


THE parliament, by which young Edward was raiſed to the throne, during the life of his father, appointed twelve perſons as his privy-council, to direct the operations of government. Mortimer, the quen's paramour, who might naturally be ſet down as one of the members, artfully excluded himſelf, under a pretended ſhew of moderation; but at the ſame time he ſecretly influenced all the meaſures that came beneath their deliberation. He cauſed the greateſt part of the royal revenues to be ſettled on the queen dowager, and he ſeldom took the trouble to conſult the miniſters of government in any public undertaking. The king himſelf was ſo beſieged by the favourite's creatures, that no acceſs could be procured to him, and the whole ſovereign authority was ſhared between Mortimer and the queen, who took no care to conceal her criminal attachment.

At length, however, Edward was reſolved to ſhake off an authority that was odious to the nation, and particularly reſtrictive upon him. But ſuch was the power of the favourite, that it required as much precaution to overturn the uſurper, as to eſtabliſh the throne. The queen and Mortimer had for ſome time choſen the caſtle of Nottingham for the place of their reſidence; it was ſtrictly guarded, the gates locked every evening, and the keys carried to the queen. It was, therefore, agreed between the king, and ſome of his barons, who ſecretly entered into his deſigns, to ſeize upon them in the fortreſs; and for that purpoſe, Sir [Page 87] William Eland, the governor, was induced to admit them by a ſecret ſubterraneous paſſage, which had been formerly contrived for an outlet, but was now hidden with rubbiſh, and known only to one or two. It was by this, therefore, the noblemen in the king's intereſts entered the caſtle in the night; and Mortimer, without having it in his power to make any reſiſtance, was ſeized in an apartment adjoining that of the queen's. It was in vain that ſhe endeavoured to protect him; in vain ſhe entreated them to ſpare her "gentle Mortimer;" the barons, deaf to her entreaties, denied her that pity, which ſhe had ſo often refuſed to others. Her paramour was condemned by the parliament, which was then ſitting, without being permitted to make his defence, or even examining a witneſs againſt him. He was hanged on a gibbet at a place called Elmes, about a mile from London, where his body was left hanging for two days after. The queen, who was certainly the moſt culpable, was ſhielded by the dignity of her ſituation; ſhe was only diſcarded from all ſhare of power, and confined for life, to the caſtle of Riſings, with a penſion of three thouſand pounds a year. From this confinement, ſhe was never after ſet free; and though the king annually paid her a viſit of decent ceremony, yet ſhe found herſelf abandoned to univerſal contempt and deteſtation; and continued for above twenty-five years after a miſerable monument of blaſted ambition.

In order ſtill more to ſecure the people's affections, Edward made a ſucceſsful irruption into Scotland, in which in one battle ſought at Hallidown hill, above thirty thouſand of the Scotch were ſlain. Soon after he turned his arms againſt France, which was at that time particularly unfortunate. The three ſons of Philip the Fair, in full parliament, accuſed their wives of adultery; and in conſequence of this accuſation they were condemned and impriſoned for life. Lewis [Page 88] Hutin, ſucceſſor to the crown of France, cauſed his wife to be ſtrangled, and her lovers to be flead alive. After his death, as he left only a daughter, his next brother, Philip the Tall, aſſumed the crown, in prejudice of the daughter; and vindicated his title by the Salic law, which laid it down, that no female ſhould ſucceed to the crown. Edward however, urged his pretenſions, as being by his mother Iſabella, who was daughter to Philip the Fair, and ſiſter to the three laſt kings of France, rightful heir to the crown. But firſt, he in a formal manner, conſulted his parliament on the propriety of the undertaking, obtained their approbation, received a proper ſupply of wool, which he intended to barter with the Flemings; and being attended with a body of Engliſh forces, and ſeveral of his nobility, he ſailied over into Flanders, big with his intended conqueſts.

The firſt great advantage gained by the Engliſh was in a naval engagement on the coaſt of Flanders, in which the French loſt two hundred and thirty ſhips, and had thirty thouſand of their ſeamen, and two of their admirals ſlain.

The intelligence of Edward's landing, and the devaſtation cauſed by his troops, who diſperſed themſelves over the whole face of the country, ſoon ſpread univerſal conſternation through the French court. Caen was taken and plundered by the Engliſh, without mercy; the villages and towns, even up to Paris, ſhared the ſame fate; and the French had no other reſource but by breaking down their bridges, to attempt putting a ſtop to the invader's career. Philip, then king of France, was not idle in making preparations to repreſs the enemy. He had ſtationed one of his gneerals, Godemar de Faye, with an army on the oppoſite ſide of the river Somme, over which Edward was to paſs; while he himſelf, at the head of an hundred thouſand fighting men, advanced to give the Engliſh battle.

As both armies had for ſome time been in ſight of each other, nothing was ſo eagerly expected on each [Page 89] ſide as a battle; and although the forces were extremely diſproportioned, the Engliſh amounting only to thirty thouſand, the French to an hundred and twenty thouſand; yet Edward reſolved to indulge the impetuoſity of his troops, and put all to the hazard of a battle. He accordingly choſe his ground with advantage near the village of Crecy; and there determined to await with tranquility the ſhock of the enemy. He drew up his men on a gentle aſcent, and divided them into three lines. The firſt was commanded by the young prince of Wales; the ſecond was conducted by the earls of Northampton and Arundel; and the third, which was kept as a body of reſerve, was headed by the king in perſon.

On the other ſide, Philip, impelled by reſentment, and confident of his numbers, was more ſolicitous in bringing the enemy to an engagement, than prudent in taking meaſures for its ſucceſs. He led on his army in three bodies oppoſite thoſe of the Engliſh. The firſt line conſiſted of fifteen thouſand Genoeſe croſs-bowmen. The ſecond body was led by the king of France's brother; and he himſelf was at the head of the third.

About three in the afternoon, the famous battle of Crecy began, by the French king's ordering the Genoeſe archers to charge; but they were ſo fatigued with their march, that they cried out for a little reſt before they ſhould engage. The count Alençon, being informed of their petition, rode up and reviled them as cowards, commanding them to begin the onſet without delay. Their reluctance to begin, was ſtill more encreaſed by a heavy ſhower which fell that inſtant, and relaxed their bow ſtrings; ſo that the diſcharge they made, produced but very little effect. On the other hand, the Engliſh archers, who bad kept their bows in caſes, and were favoured by a ſudden gleam of ſunſhine, that rather dazzled the enemy, let fly their arrows ſo thick, and with ſuch good aim, that nothing was to be ſeen among the [Page 90] Genoeſe but hurry, terror, and diſmay. The young prince of Wales had preſence of mind to take advantage of their confuſion, and to lead on his line to the charge. The French cavalry, however, commanded by the count Alençon, wheeling round ſuſtained the combat, and began to hem the Engliſh in. The earls of Arundel and Northampton, now came to aſſiſt the prince, who appeared foremoſt in the very ſhock; and wherever he appeared turning the fortune of the day. The thickeſt of the battle was now gathered round him, and the valour of a boy filled even veterans with aſtoniſhment; but their ſurprize at his courage could not give way to their fears for his ſafety. Being apprehenſive that ſome miſchance might happen to him in the end, an officer was diſpatched to the king, deſiring that ſuccours might be ſent to the prince's relief. Edward, who had all this time, with great tranquility, viewed the engagement from a wind-mill, demanded with ſeeming deliberation if his ſon were dead; but being anſwered that he ſtill lived, and was giving aſtoniſhing inſtances of valour; "then tell my generals, cried the king, that he ſhall have no aſſiſtance from me; the honour of this day ſhall be his, let him ſhew himſelf worthy the profeſſion of arms, and let him be indebted to his own merit alone for victory." This ſpeech, being reported to the prince and his attendants, it inſpired them with new courage; they made a freſh attack upon the French cavalry, and count Alençon, their braveſt commander, was ſlain. This was the begining of their total overthrow: the French being now without a competent leader, were thrown into confuſion; their whole army took to flight, and were put to the ſword by the purſuers without mercy, till night ſtopped the carnage. Never was a victory more ſeaſonable, or leſs bloody to the Engliſh than this. Notwithſtanding the great ſlaughter of the [Page 91] enemy, the conquerors loſt but one eſquire, three knights, and a few of inferior rank.

But this victory was attended with ſtill more ſubſtantial advantages; for Edward, as moderate in conqueſt, as prudent in his methods to obtain it, reſolved to ſecure an eaſy entrance into France for the future. With this view he laid ſiege to Calais, that was then defended by John de Vienne, an experienced commander, and ſupplied with every thing neceſſary for defence. Theſe operations, though ſlow, were at lengh ſucceſsful. It was in vain that the governor made a noble defence, that he excluded all the uſeleſs mouths from the city, which Edward generouſly permitted to paſs. Edward reſolved to reduce it by famine, and it was at length taken after a twelve-month's ſiege, the defendants having been reduced to the laſt extremity. He reſolved to puniſh the obſtinacy of the townſmen, by the death of ſix of the moſt conſiderable citizens, who offered themſelves, with ropes round their necks, to ſatiate his indignation; but he ſpared their lives, at the interceſſion of the queen.

While Edward was reaping victories upon the continent, the Scotch, ever willing to embrace a favourable opportunity of rapine and revenge, invaded the frontiers with a numerous army, headed by David Bruce their king. This unexpected invaſion, at ſuch a juncture, alarmed the Engliſh, but was not capable of intimidating them. Lionel, Edward's ſon, who was left guardian of England during his father's abſence, was yet too young to take upon him the command of an army; but the victories on the continent ſeemed to inſpire even women with valour: Philippa, Edward's queen, took upon her the conduct of the field, and prepared to repulſe the enemy in perſon. Accordingly, [Note: A. D. 1346.] having made lord Percy general under her, ſhe met the Scots at a place called Nevill's Croſs near Durham, and offered them battle. [Page 92] The Scotch king was no leſs impatient to engage; he imagined that he might obtain an eaſy victory againſt undiſciplined troops and headed by a woman. But he was miſerably deceived. His army was quickly routed and driven from the field. Fifteen thouſand of his men were cut to pieces; and he himſelf, with many of his nobles and knights, were taken priſoners, and carried in triumph to London.

A victory gained by the Black Prince near Poictiers followed not long after, in which John king of France was taken priſoner, and led in triumph through London amidſt an amazing concourſe of ſpectators. Two kings priſoners in the ſame court, and at the ſame time, were conſidered as glorious atchievements; but all that England gained by them was only glory. Whatever was won in France, with all the dangers of war, and the expence of preparation, was ſucceſſively, and in a manner ſilently, loſt, without the mortification of a defeat.

The Engliſh, by their frequent ſupplies, had been quite exhauſted, and were unable to continue an army in the field. Charles, who had ſucceeded his father John, who died a priſoner in the Savoy, on the other hand, cautiouſly forbore coming to any deciſive engagement; but was contented to let his enemies waſte their ſtrength in attempts to plunder a fortified country. When they were retired, he then was ſure to ſally forth, and poſſeſs himſelf of ſuch places as they were not ſtrong enough to defend. He firſt fell upon Ponthieu; the citizens of Abbeville opened their gates to him; thoſe of St. Valois, Rue, and Crotoy, imitated the example; and the whole country was, in a little time, reduced to total ſubmiſſion. The ſouthern provinces were, in the ſame manner, invaded by his generals with equal ſucceſs; while the Black Prince, deſtitute of ſupplies from England, and waſted by a cruel and conſumptive diſorder, was obliged to return to his native country, [Page 93] leaving the affairs of the ſouth of France in a moſt deſperate condition.

But what of all other things ſerved to gloom the latter part of this ſplendid reign, was the approaching death of the Black Prince, whoſe conſtitution ſhewed but too manifeſty the ſymptoms of a ſpeedy diſſolution. This valiant and accompliſhed prince died in the forty-ſixth year of his age, leaving behind him a character without a ſingle blemiſh; and a degree of ſorrow among the people, that time could ſcarcely alleviate.

The king was moſt ſenſibly affected with the loſs of his ſon; and tried every art to allay his uneaſineſs. He removed himſelf entirely from the duties and burdens of the ſtate, and left his kingdom to be plundered by a ſet of rapacious miniſters. He did not ſurvive the conſequences of his bad conduct; but died about a year after the prince, at Shene, in Surry, deſerted by all his courtiers, even by thoſe who had grown rich by his bounty. He expired in the ſixty-fifth year of his age and fifty firſt of his reign, 1377; a prince more admired than beloved by his ſubjects, and more an object of their applauſe, than their ſorrow.

It was in this reign that the order of the garter was inſtituted; [Note: A. D. 1340.] the number was to conſiſt of twenty four perſons beſide the king. A ſtory prevails, but unſupported by any ancient authority, that the counteſs of Saliſbury, at a ball, happening to drop her garter, the king took it up, and preſented it to her with theſe words, "Honi ſoit qui mal y penſe;" Evil be to him that evil thinks. This accident it is ſaid gave riſe to the order and the motto.

Edward left many children by his queen Philippa of Hainault: his eldeſt ſon, the Black P [...]ince, died before him, but he left a ſon, named Richard, who ſucceeded to the throne.


[Page 94]

RICHARD II. was but eleven years old when he came to the throne of his grandfather, and found the people diſcontented and poor, the nobles proud and rebellious. As he was a minor, the government was veſted in the hands of his three uncles, the dukes of Lancaſter, York, and Glouceſter; and as the late king had left the kingdom involved in many dangerous and expenſive wars, which demanded large and conſtant ſupplies, the murmurs of the people encreaſed in proportion. The expences of armaments to face the enemy on every ſide, and a want of oeconomy in the adminiſtration, entirely exhauſted the treaſury; and a new tax of three groats on every perſon above fifteen, was granted by parliament as a ſupply. The indignation of the people had been for ſome time encreaſing; but a tax ſo unequitable, in which the rich paid no more than the poor, kindled the reſentment of the latter into flame. It began in Eſſex, where a report was induſtriouſly ſpread, that the peaſants were to be deſtroyed, their houſes burned, and their farms plundered. A black-ſmith, well known by the name of Wat Tyler, was the firſt that excited them to arms. The tax gatherers coming to this man's houſe while he was at work, demanded payment for his daughter, which he refuſed, alledging ſhe was under the age mentioned in the act. One of the brutal collectors inſiſted on her being a full grown woman; and immediately attempted a very indecent proof of his aſſertion. This provoked the father to ſuch a degree, that he inſtantly ſtruck him dead with a blow of his hammer. The ſtanders by applauded his ſpirit, and, one and all, [Page 95] reſolved to defend his conduct. He was conſidered as a champion in the cauſe, and appointed the leader and ſpokeſman of the people. It is eaſy to imagine the diſorders committed by this tumultuous rabble; the whole neighbourhood roſe in arms; they burnt and plundered wherever they came, and revenged upon their former maſters, all thoſe inſults which they had long ſuſtained with impunity. As the diſcontent was general, the inſurgents encreaſed in proportion as they approached the capital. The flame ſoon propagated itſelf into Kent, Hertfordſhire, Surry, Suſſex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridge, and Lincoln. They were found to amount to above an hundred thouſand men, by the time they were arrived at Blackheath. At the head of one party of theſe was Wat Tyler, who led his men into Smithfield, where he was met by the king, who invited him to a conference, under a pretence of hearing and redreſſing his grievances. Tyler ordering his companions to retire, till he ſhould give them a ſignal, boldly ventured to meet the king in the midſt of his retinue, and accordingly began the conference. The demands of this demagogue are cenſured by all the hiſtorians of the time, as inſolent and extravagant; and yet nothing can be more juſt than thoſe they have delivered for him. He required that all ſlaves ſhould be ſet free; that all commonages ſhould be open to the poor as well as rich; and that a general pardon ſhould be paſſed for the late outrages. Whilſt he made theſe demands, he now and then lifted up his ſword in a menacing manner; which inſolence ſo raiſed the indignation of William Walworth, then mayor of London, attending on the king, that, without conſidering the danger to which he expoſed his majeſty, he ſtunned Tyler with a blow of his mace; while one of the king's knights, riding up, diſpatched him with his ſword. The mutineers, ſeeing their leader fall, prepared themſelves to take revenge; and their bows were now [Page 96] bent for execution, when Richard, though not yet quite ſixteen years of age, rode up to the rebels, and, with admirable preſence of mind, cried out, "What my people, will you then kill your king? Be not concerned for the loſs of your leader; I myſelf will now be your general; follow me into the field, and you ſhall have whatever you deſire." The awed multitude immediatly deſiſted; they followed the king as if mechanically into the fields, and there he granted them the ſame charter that he had before given to their companions, but which he ſoon after revoked in parliament.

Hitherto the king had acted under the controle of the regency, who did all they could deviſe to abridge his power; however, in an extraordinary council of the nobility, aſſembled after Eaſter, he, to the aſtoniſhment of all preſent, deſired to know his age; and being told that he was turned of two and twenty, he alledged, that it was time then for him to govern without help; and that there was no reaſon that he ſhould be deprived of thoſe rights which the meaneſt of his ſubjects enjoyed.

Isaac Taylor del. et sculp.

Published by G. Kearsley in Fleet Street, as the Act directs. July 2d. 1774.

Figure 2. Wat Tyler threatening Richard II.

Such complicated injuries ſerved to enflame the reſentment of Hereford againſt the king; and although he had hitherto concealed it, he now ſet no bounds to his indignation, but even conceived a deſire of dethroning a perſon who had ſhewn himſelf ſo unworthy of power. Indeed no man could [Page 98] be better qualified for an enterprize of this nature than the earl of Hereford: he was cool, cautious, diſcerning, and reſolute. He had ſerved with diſtinction againſt the infidels of Lithuania; and he had thus joined to his other merits thoſe of piety and valour. He was ſtimulated by private injuries; and had alliances and fortune ſufficient to give weight to his meaſures. He only waited for the abſence of the king from England to put his ſchemes in execution; and Richard's going over into Ireland to quell an inſurrection there was the opportunity he long had looked for.

Accordingly he inſtantly embarked at Nantz, with a retinue of ſixty perſons; in three ſmall veſſels, and landed at Ravenſpur in Yorkſhire. The earl of Northumberland, who had long been a malecontent, together with Henry Percy, his ſon, who, from his ardent valour, was ſurnamed Hotſpur, immediately joined him with their forces. After this junction the concourſe of people coming to liſt under his banner was ſo great, that in a few days his army amounted to threeſcore thouſand men.

Whilſt theſe things were tranſacting in England, Richard continued in Ireland in perfect ſecurity. Contrary winds, for three weeks together, prevented his receiving any news of the rebellion which was begun in his native dominions; wherefore upon landing at Milford-haven with a body of twenty thouſand men, he ſaw himſelf in a dreadful ſituation, in the midſt of an enraged people, without any friend on whom to rely; and forſaken by thoſe, who, in the ſunſhine of his power, had only contributed to fan his follies. His little army gradually began to deſert him, till at laſt he found that he had not above ſix thouſand men, who followed his ſtandard. Thus, not knowing whom to truſt to, or where to turn, he ſaw no other hopes of ſafety, but to throw himſelf upon the generoſity of his enemy, and to gain from [Page 99] pity what he could not obtain by arms. He, therefore, ſent Hereford word, that he was ready to ſubmit to whatever terms he thought proper to preſcribe, and that he earneſtly deſired a conference. For this purpoſe, the earl appointed him to meet at a caſtle within about ten miles of Cheſter, where he came the next day with his whole army. Richard, who the day before had been brought thither by the duke of Northumberland, deſcrying his rival's approach from the walls, went down to receive him; while Hereford, after ſome ceremony, entered the caſtle in complete armour, only his head was bare, in compliment to the fallen king. Richard received him with that open air for which he had been remarkable, and kindly bade him welcome. "My lord, the king, returned the earl, with a cool reſpectful bow, I am come ſooner than you appointed, becauſe your people ſay, that for one and twenty years you have governed with rigour and indiſcretion. They are very ill ſatisfied with your conduct; but, if it pleaſe God, I will help you to govern them better for the time to come."

To this declaration the king made no other anſwer, but, "Fair couſin, ſince it pleaſes you, it pleaſes us likewiſe."

But Hereford's haughty anſwer was not the only mortification the unfortunate Richard was to endure. After a ſhort converſation with ſome of the king's attendants, Hereford ordered the king's horſes to be brought out of the ſtable; and two wretched animals being produced, Richard was placed upon one, and his favourite, the earl of Saliſbury, upon the other. In this mean equipage they rode to Cheſter; and were conveyed to the caſtle, with a great noiſe of trumpets, and through a vaſt concourſe of people, who were no way moved at the ſight. In this manner he was led triumphantly along, from town to town, amidſt multitudes who ſcoffed at him and extolled his rival. Long live the good duke of Lancaſter out [Page 100] deliverer! was the general cry; but as for the king, to uſe the pathetic words of the poet, "None cried God bleſs him." Thus after repeated indignites, he was confined a cloſe priſoner in the Tower; there, if poſſible, to undergo a ſtill greater variety of ſtudied inſolence, and flagrant contempt. The wretched monarch, humbled in this manner, began to loſe the pride of a king with the ſplendours of royalty, and his ſpirits funk to his circumſtances. There was no great difficulty, therefore, in inducing him to ſign a deed, by which he renounced his crown, as being unqualified for governing the kingdom. Upon this reſignation Hereford founded his principal claim; but willing to fortify his pretenſions with every appearance of juſtice, he called a parliament, which was readily brought to approve and confirm his claims. A frivolous charge of thirty three articles was drawn up, and found valid againſt the king; upon which he was ſolemnly depoſed, and the earl of Hereford elected in his ſtead, by the title of Henry IV. Thus began the conteſt between the houſes of York and Lancaſter; which, for ſeveral years after, deluged the kingdom with blood; and yet, in the end, contributed to ſettle and confirm the conſtitution.

When Richard was depoſed, the earl of Northumberland made a motion in the houſe of peers, demanding the advice of parliament, with regard to the future treatment of the depoſed king. To this they replied, that he ſhould be impriſoned in ſome ſecure place, where his friends and partizans ſhould not be able to find him. This was accordingly put in practice; but while he ſtill continued alive, the uſurper could not remain in ſafety. Indeed ſome conſpiracies and commotions, which followed ſoon after, induced Henry to wiſh for Richard's death; inconſequence of which, one of thoſe aſſaſſins that are found in every court, ready to commit the moſt horrid crimes for reward, went down to the place of [Page 101] this unfortunate monarch's confinement, in the caſtle of Pomfret, and, with eight of his followers, ruſhed into his apartment. The king concluding their deſign was to take away his life, reſolved not to fall unrevenged, but to ſell it as dearly as he could; wherefore, wreſting a pole-ax from one of the murderers, he ſoon laid four of their number dead at his feet. But he was at length overpowered, and ſtruck dead by the blow of a pole-ax; although ſome aſſert, that he was ſtarved in priſon. Thus died the unfortunate Richard, in the thirty fourth year of his age, and the twenty-third of his reign. Though his conduct was blameable, yet the puniſhment he ſuffered was greater than his offences; and in the end, his ſufferings made more converts to his family and cauſe, than ever his moſt meritorious actions could have procured them. He left no poſterity, either legitimate or otherwiſe.


HENRY ſoon found that the throne of an uſurper is but a bed of thorns. [Note: A. D. 1399.] Such violent animoſities broke out among the barons in the firſt ſeſſion of his parliament, that forty challenges were given and received, and forty gauntlets thrown down, as pledges of the ſincerity of their reſentment. But though theſe commotions were ſeemingly ſuppreſſed by his moderation for that time, yet one conſpiracy broke out after another, and were detected in the formation, or actually puniſhed in the field.

That formed againſt him by the earl of Northumberland was the moſt formidable. [Note: A. D. 1402.] It was in a ſkirmiſh between the Scotch and [Page 102] Engliſh, that Archibald, earl of Douglas, with many of the Scotch nobility, were taken priſoners by the earl of Northumberland, and carried to Alnwick caſtle. When Henry received intelligence of this victory, he ſent the earl orders not to ranſom his priſoners, as he intended to detain them, in order to encreaſe his demands, in making peace with Scotland. This meſſage was highly reſented by the earl of Northumberland, who, by the laws of war that prevailed in that age, had a right to the ranſom of all ſuch as he had taken in battle. The command was ſtill more irkſome, as he conſidered the king as his debtor both for ſecurity and his crown. Accordingly, ſtung with this ſuppoſed injury, he reſolved to overturn a throne which he had the chief hand in eſtabliſhing. A ſcheme was laid, in which the Scotch and Welſh were to unite their forces, and to aſſiſt Northumberland in elevating Mortimer, as the true heir, to the crown of England. When all things were prepared for the intended inſurrection, the earl had the mortification to find himſelf unable to lead on the troops, being ſeized with a ſudden illneſs at Berwick. But the want of his preſence was well ſupplied by his ſon Harry Percy, ſurnamed Hotſpur, who took the command of the troops, and marched them towards Shrewſbury, in order to join his forces with thoſe of Glendour, a Welſh chieftain, who, ſome time before had been exchanged from priſon, and had now advanced with his forces as far as Shropſhire. Upon the junction of theſe two armies, they publiſhed a manifeſto, which aggravated their real grievances, and invented more. In the mean time, Henry, who had recieved no intelligence of their deſigns, was at firſt greatly ſurprized at the news of this rebellion. But fortune ſeemed to befriend him on this occaſion; he had a ſmall army in readineſs, which he had intended againſt the Scotch, and knowing the importance of diſpatch againſt ſuch active enemies, [Page 103] he inſtantly hurried down to Shrewſbury, that he might give the rebels battle.

Upon the approach of the two armies, both ſides ſeemed willing to give a colour to their cauſe, by ſhewing a deſire of reconciliation; but when they came to open their mutual demands, the treaty was turned into abuſe and recrimination. On one ſide was objected rebellion and ingratitude; on the other, tyranny and uſurpation. The two armies were pretty nearly equal, each conſiſting of about twelve thouſand men; the animoſity on both ſides was inflamed to the higheſt pitch; and no prudence nor military ſkill could determine on which ſide the victory might incline. Accordingly, a very bloody engagement enſued, in which the generals on both ſides exerted themſelves with great bravery. Henry was ſeen every where in the thickeſt of the fight; while his valiant ſon, who was afterwards the renowned conqueror of France, fought by his ſide, and, though wounded in the face by an arrow, ſtill kept the field, and performed aſtoniſhing acts of valour. On the other ſide, the daring Hotſpur ſupported that renown which he had acquired in ſo many bloody engagements, and every where ſought out the king as a noble object of his indignation. At laſt, however, his death, from an unknown hand, decided the victory; and the fortune of Henry once more prevailed. On that bloody day, it is ſaid, that no leſs than two thouſand three hundred gentlemen were ſlain, and about ſix thouſand private men, of whom two thirds were of Hotſpur's army.

While this furious tranſaction was going forward, Northumberland, who was lately recovered from his indiſpoſition, was advancing with a body of troops to reinforce the army of the malecontents, and take upon him the command. But hearing by the way of his ſon's and brother's misfortune, he diſmiſſed his troops, not daring to keep the field with ſo ſmall a force, [Page 104] before an army ſuperior in numberand ſluſhed with recent victory. The earl, therefore, for a while attempted to find ſafety by flight, but at laſt being preſſed by his purſuers, and finding himſelf totally without reſource, he choſe rather to throw himſelf upon the king's mercy, than lead a precarious and indigent life in exile. Upon his appearing before Henry at York, he pretended that his ſole intention in arming was to mediate between the two parties; and this, though but a very weak apology, ſeemed to ſatisfy the king. Northumberland, therefore, received a pardon; Henry probably thinking that he was ſufficiently puniſhed by the loſs of his army, and the death of his favourite ſon.

By theſe means Henry ſeemed to ſurmount all his troubles; and the calm, which was thus produced, was employed by him in endeavours to acquire popularity, which he had loſt by the ſeverities exerciſed during the preceding part of his reign. [Note: A. D. 1407.] For that reaſon, he often permitted the houſe of commons to aſſume powers which had not been uſually exerciſed by their predeceſſors. In the ſixth year of his reign, when they voted him the ſupplies, they appointed treaſurers of their own, to ſee the money diſburſed for the purpoſes intended; and requred them to deliver in their accounts to the houſe. They propoſed thirty very important articles for the government of the king's houſhold; and, on the whole preſerved their priveleges and freedoms more entire during his reign than that of any of his predeceſſors. But while the king thus laboured not without ſucceſs to retrieve the reputation he had loſt, his ſon Henry, prince of Wales, ſeemed equally bent on incurring the public averſion. He became notorious for all kinds of debauchery; and ever choſe to be ſurrounded by a ſet of wretches, who took pride in committing the moſt illegal acts, with [Page 105] the prince at their head. The king was not a little mortified at this degeneracy in his eldeſt ſon, who ſeemed entirely forgetful of his ſtation, although he had already exhibited repeated proofs of his valour, conduct, and generoſity. Such were the exceſſes into which he ran, that one of his diſſolute companions having been brought to trial befor Sir William Gaſcoigne, chief juſtice of the King's-bench, for ſome miſdemeanor, the prince was ſo exaſperated at the iſſue of the trial, that he ſtruck the judge in open court. The venerable magiſtrate, who knew the reverence that was due to his ſtation, behaved with a dignity that became his office, and immediately ordered the prince to be committed to priſon. When this tranſaction was reported to the king, who was an excellent judge of mankind, he could not help exclaiming in a tranſport; "Happy is the king, that has a magiſtrate endowed with courage to execute the laws upon ſuch an offender; ſtill more happy in having a ſon willing to ſubmit to ſuch a chaſtiſement!" This, in fact, is one of the firſt great inſtances we read in the Engliſh hiſtory of a magiſtate doing juſtice in oppoſition to power; ſince upon many former occaſions, we find the judges only miniſters of royal caprice.

Henry, whoſe health had for ſome time been declining, did not long out-live this tranſaction. He was ſubject to fits, which bereaved him, for the time, of his ſenſes; and which at laſt brought on his death at Weſtminſter, in the forty-ſixth year of his age, and the fourteenth of his reign.


[Page 106]

[Note: A. D. 1413.]THE firſt ſteps taken by the young king confirmed all thoſe prepoſſeſſions entertained in his favour. He called together his former abandoned companions, acquainted them with his intended reformation; exhorted them to follow his example; and thus diſmiſſed them from his preſence, allowing them a competency to ſubſiſt upon till he ſaw them worthy of further promotion. The faithful miniſters of his father, at firſt, began to tremble for their former juſtice, in the adminiſtration of their duty; but he ſoon eaſed them of their fears, by taking them into his friendſhip and confidence. Sir William Gaſcoigne, who thought himſelf the moſt obnoxious, met with praiſes inſtead of reproaches, and was exhorted to perſevere in the ſame rigorous and impartial execution of juſtice.

About this time the hereſy of Wickliſſe, or Lollardiſm, as it was called, began to ſpread every day more and more, while it received a new luſtre from the protection and preaching of Sir John Oldcaſtle, baron of Cobham, who had been one of the king's domeſtics, and ſtood high in his favour. The primate, however, indicted this nobleman, and with the aſſiſtance of his ſuffragans, condemned him as an heretic to be burnt alive. Cobham, however, eſcaping from the Tower, in which he was confined, the day before his execution, privately went among his party; and ſtimulating their zeal, led them up to London, to take a ſignal revenge on his enemies. But the king, appriſed of his intentions, ordered that the city gates ſhould be ſhut; and coming by night with his guards into St. Giles's fields, ſeized ſuch of [Page 107] the conſpirators as appeared, and afterwards laid hold of ſeveral parties that were haſtening to the appointed place. Some of theſe were executed, but the greater number pardoned. Cobham himſelf found means of eſcaping for that time: but he was taken about four years after; and never did the cruelty of man invent, or crimes draw down, ſuch torments as he was made to endure. He was hung up with a chain by by the middle,; and thus at a ſlow fire burned, or rather oaſted, alive.

Henry, to turn the minds of the people from ſuch hideous ſcenes, reſolved to take the advantage of the troubles in which France was at that time engaged; and aſſembling a great fleet and army at Southampton landed at Harfleur, at the head of an army of ſix thouſand men at arms, and twenty-four thouſand foot, moſtly archers.

But although the enemy made but a feeble reſiſtance, yet the climate ſeemed to fight againſt the Engliſh; a contagious dyſentery carrying off three parts of Henry's army. The Engliſh monarch, when it was too late, began to repent of his raſh inroad into a country where diſeaſe and a powerful army, every where threatened deſtruction; he therefore began to think of retiring into Calais.

The enemy, however, reſolved to intercept his retreat; and after he had paſt the ſmall river of Tertrois at Blangi, he was ſurprized to obſerve from the heights, the whole French army drawn up in the plains of Azincourt; and ſo poſted, that it was impoſſible for him to proceed on his march, without coming to an engagement. No ſituation could be more unfavourable than that in which he found himſelf. His army was waſted with diſeaſe; the ſoldiers ſpirits worn down with fatigue, deſtitute of proviſions, and diſcouraged by their retreat. Their whole body amounted but to nine thouſand men; and theſe were to ſuſtain the ſhock of an enemy near ten times [Page 108] their number, headed by expert generals, and plentifully ſupplied with proviſions. As the enemy were ſo much ſuperior, he drew up his army on a narrow ground between two woods, which guarded each flank; and he patiently expected, in that poſition, the attack of the enemy. The conſtable of France was at the head of one army; and Henry himſelf, with Edward, duke of York, commanded the other. For a time both armies as if afraid to begin, kept ſilently gazing at each other, neither willing to break their ranks by making the onſet; which Henry perceiving, with a chearful countenance cried out, "My friends, ſince they will not begin, it is ours to ſet them the example; come on, and the Bleſſed Trinity be our protection." Upon this, the whole army ſet forward with a ſhout, while the French ſtill waited their approach with intrepidity. The Engliſh archers, who had long been famous for their great ſkill, firſt let fly a ſhower of arrows three feet long, which did great execution. The French cavalry advancing to repel theſe, two hundered bowmen, who lay till then concealed, riſing on a ſudden, let ſly among them, and produced ſuch a confuſion, that the archers threw by their arrows, and ruſhing in, fell upon them ſword in hand. The French at firſt repulſed the aſſailants, who were enfeebled by diſeaſe; but they ſoon made up the defect by their valour; and reſolving to conquer or die, burſt in upon the enemy with ſuch impetuoſity, that the French were ſoon obliged to give way.

They were overthrown in every part of the field; their numbers being crowded into a very narrow ſpace, were incapable of either ſlying, or making any reſiſtance; ſo that they covered the ground with heaps of ſlain. After all appearance of oppoſition was over there was heard an alarm from behind, which proceeded from a number of peaſants, who had fallen upon the Engliſh baggage, and were putting [Page 109] thoſe who guarded it to the ſword. Henry, now ſeeing the enemy on all ſides of him, began to entertain apprehenſions from his priſoners, the number of whom exceeded even that of his army. He thought it neceſſary, therefore, to iſſue general orders for puting them to death; but on the diſcovery of the certainty of his victory he ſtopped the ſlaughter, and was ſtill able to ſave a great a number. This ſeverity tarniſhed the glory which his victory would otherwiſe have acquired; but all the heroiſm of that age is tinctured with barbarity. In this battle the French loſt ten thouſand men, and fourteen thouſand priſoners; the Engliſh only forty men in all.

France was at that time in a wretched ſituation; [Note: A. D. 1417.] the whole kingdom appeared as one vaſt theatre of crimes, murders, injuſtice, and devaſtation. The duke of Orleans was aſſaſſinated by the duke of Burgundy; and the duke of Burgundy, in his turn, fell by the treachery of the dauphin.

A ſtate of imbecility into which Charles had fallen, made him paſſive in every tranſaction; and Henry, at laſt, by conqueſt and negociation, cauſed himſelf to be elected heir to the crown. The principal articles of this treaty were, that Henry ſhould eſpouſe the princeſs Catharine, daughter to the king of France, that king Charles ſhould enjoy the title and dignity for life; but that Henry ſhould be declared heir to the crown, and ſhould be entruſted with the preſent adminiſtration of the government; that France and England ſhould for ever be united under one king, but ſhould ſtill retain their reſpective laws and privileges.

In conſequence of this while Henry was every, where victorious, he fixed his reſidence at Paris; [Note: A. D. 1421.] and while Charles had but a ſmall court, he was attended with a very magnificent one. On Whit-ſunday the two kings and their two queens with crowns on their heads, dined [Page 110] together in public; Charles receiving apparent homage, but Henry commanding with abſolute authority.

Henry at a time when his glory had nearly reached its ſummit, and both crowns were juſt devolved upon him, was ſeized with a fiſtula; a diſorder, which from the unſkilfulneſs of the phyſicians of the times, ſoon became mortal. He expired with the ſame intrepidity with which he had lived, in the thirty-fourth year of his age, and the tenth year of his reign.


THE duke of Bedford, one of the moſt accompliſhed princes of the age, [Note: A. D. 1422.] and equally experienced, both in the cabinet and the field, was appointed by parliament protector of England, defender of the church, and firſt counſellor to the king, during his minority, as he was not yet a year old; and as France was the great object that engroſſed all conſideration, he attempted to exert the efforts of the nation upon the continent with all his vigour.

A new revolution was produced in that kingdom, by means apparently the moſt unlikely to be attended with ſucceſs.

In the village of Domreni, near Vaucouleurs, on the borders of Lorrain, there lived a country girl, about twenty-ſeven years of age, called Joan of Arc. This girl had been a ſervant at a ſmall inn; and in that humble ſtation had ſubmitted to thoſe hardy employments which fit the body for the fatigues of war. She was of an irreproachable life, and had hitherto teſtified none of thoſe enterprizing qualities which diſplayed themſelves ſoon after. Her mind, however, brooding with melancholy ſtedfaſtneſs upon the miſerable ſituation of her country, began to feel [Page 111] ſeveral impulſes, which ſhe was willing to miſtake for the inſpirations of heaven. Convinced of the reality of her own admonitions, ſhe had recourſe to one Baudricourt, governor of Vaucouleurs, and informed him of her deſtination by heaven, to free her native country from its fierce invaders. Baudricourt treated her at firſt with ſome neglect; but her importunities at length prevailed; and, willing to make a trial of her pretenſions, he gave her ſome attendants, who conducted her to the French court, which at that time reſided at Chinon.

The French court were probably ſenſible of the weakneſs of her pretenſions; but they were willing to make uſe of every artifice to ſupport their declining fortunes. It was therefore given out, that Joan was actually inſpired; that ſhe was able to diſcover the king among the number of his courtiers, although he had laid aſide all the diſtinctions of his authority; that ſhe had told him ſome ſecrets, which were only known to himſelf; and that ſhe had demanded, and minutely deſcribed, a ſword in the church of St. Catharine de Fierbois, which ſhe had never ſeen. In this manner the minds of the vulgar being prepared for her appearance, ſhe was armed cap-à-pee, mounted on a charger, and ſhewn in that martial dreſs to the people. She was then brought before the doctors of the univerſity; and they tinctured with the credulity of the times, or willing to ſecond the impoſture, declared that ſhe had actually received her commiſſion from above.

When the preparations for her miſſion were comcompletely blazoned, their next aim was to ſend her againſt the enemy. The Engliſh were at that time beſieging the city of Orleans, the laſt reſource of Charles, and every thing promiſed them a ſpeedy ſurrender. Joan undertook to raiſe the ſiege; and to render herſelf ſtill more remarkable, girded herſelf with the miraculous ſword, of which ſhe had before [Page 112] ſuch extraordinary notices. Thus equipped, ſhe ordered all the ſoldiers to confeſs themſelves before they ſet out, ſhe diſplayed in her hand a conſecrated banner, and aſſured the troops of certain ſucceſs. Such confidence on her ſide ſoon raiſed the ſpirits of the French army; and even the Engliſh, who pretended to deſpiſe her efforts, felt themſelves ſecretly influenced with the terrors of her miſſion, and relaxing in their endeavours, the ſiege was raiſed with great precipitation.

From being attacked, the French now in turn became the agreſſors. One victory followed another, and at length the French king was ſolemnly crowned at Rheims, which was what Joan had promiſed ſhould come to paſs.

A tide of ſucceſſes followed the performance of this ſolemnity; but Joan having thrown herſelf into the city of Compeign with a body of troops that was then beſieging by the duke of Burgundy, ſhe was taken priſoner in a ſally which ſhe headed againſt the enemy, the governor ſhutting the gates behind.

The duke of Bedford was no ſooner informed of her being taken, than he purchaſed her of the count Vendome, who had made her his priſoner, and ordered her to be committed to cloſe confinement. The credulity of both nations was at that time ſo great, that nothing was too abſurd to gain belief that coincided with their paſſions. As Joan but a little before, from her ſucceſſes, was regarded as a ſaint, ſhe was now, upon her captivity, conſidered as a ſorcereſs, forſaken by the daemon who had granted her a fallacious and temporary aſſiſtance; and accordingly being tried at Rouen, ſhe was found guilty of hereſy and witchcraft, and ſentenced to be burnt alive, which was executed accordingly with the moſt ignorant malignity.

From this period the Engliſh affairs became totally irretrievable. The city of Paris returned once more [Page 113] to a ſenſe of its duty. Thus ground was continually, though ſlowly, gained by the French. [Note: A. D. 1443.]

And in the lapſe of a few years Calais alone remained of all the conqueſts that had been made in France, and this was but a ſmall compenſation for the blood and treaſure which had been laviſhed in that country, and which only ſerved to gratify ambition with tranſient applauſe.

But the incapacity of Henry began to appear in a fuller light; and foreign war being now extinguiſhed, the people began to prepare for the horrors of inteſtine ſtrife. In this period of calamity, a new intereſt was revived, which had lain dormant in the times of proſperity and triumph. Richard duke of York, who was deſcended, by the mother's ſide, from Lionel, one of the ſons of Edward the Third, whereas the reigning king was deſcended from John of Gaunt, a younger ſon of the ſame monarch; Richard, therefore, ſtood plainly in ſucceſſion before Henry; and he began to think the weakneſs and unpopularity of the preſent reign a favourable moment for ambition. The enſign of Richard was a white roſe, that of Henry a red; and this gave name to the two factions, whoſe animoſity was now about to drench the kingdom with ſlaughter.

Among the number of complaints which the unpopularity of the government gave riſe to, there were ſome which even excited inſurrection; particularly that headed by John Cade, which was of the moſt dangerous nature. This man was a native of Ireland, who had been obliged to fly over into France for his crimes; but ſeeing the people upon his return prepared for violent meaſures, he aſſumed the name of Mortimer; and at the head of twenty thouſand Kentiſh men advanced towards the capital, and encamped at Blackheath. The king being informed [Page 114] of this commotion, ſent a meſſage to demand the cauſe of their aſſembling in arms; and Cade, in the name of the community, anſwered that their only aim was to puniſh evil miniſters, and procure a redreſs of grievances for the people. But committing ſome abuſes, and engaging with the citizens, he was abandoned by moſt of his followers, and, retreating to Rocheſter, was obliged to fly alone into the Wolds of Kent, where a price being ſet upon his head by proclamation, he was diſcovered and ſlain.

In the mean time the duke of York ſecretly fomented theſe diſturbances, and pretending to eſpouſe the cauſe of the people, ſtill ſecretly aſpired at the crown, and though he wiſhed nothing ſo ardently, yet he was for ſome time prevented by his own ſcruples from ſeizing it. What his intrigues failed to bring about, accident produced to his deſire. The king falling into a diſtemper, which ſo far encreaſed his natural embecility that it even rendered him incapable of maintaining the appearance of royalty, York was appointed lieutenant and protector of the kingdom, with powers to hold and open parliaments at pleaſure.

Being thus inveſted with a plenitude of power, [Note: A. D. 1454.] he continued in the enjoyment of it for ſome time; but at length the unhappy king recovering from his lethargic complaint, and, as if awaking from a dream, perceived with ſurprize, that he was ſtripped of all his authority. Henry was married to Margaret of Anjou, a woman of a maſculine underſtanding, who obliged him to take the field; and in a manner dragged him to it, where both ſides came to an engagement, in which the Yorkiſts gained a complete victory. The king himſelf being wounded, and taking ſhelter in a cottage, near the field of battle, was taken priſoner, and treated by the victor with great reſpect and tenderneſs.

[Page 115] Henry was now but a priſoner treated with the ſplendid forms of royalty; yet indolent and ſickly, he ſeemed pleaſed with his ſituation, and did not regret that power which was not to be exerciſed without fatigue. But Margaret once more induced him to aſſert his prerogative. The contending parties met at Bloreheath, [Note: Sept. 23. 1459.] on the borders of Staffordſhire, and the Yorkiſts gained ſome advantages; but Sir Andrew Trollop, who commanded a body of veterans for the duke of York, deſerted wth all his men to the king; and this ſo intimidated the whole army of the Yorkiſts, that they ſeparated the next day without ſtriking a ſingle blow. Several other engagements followed with various ſucceſs. Margaret being at one time victorious, at another an exile, the victory upon Wakefield-Green, in which the duke of York was ſlain, ſeemed to fix her good fortune.

But the earl of Warwck, who now put himſelf at the head of the Yorkiſts, was one of the moſt celebrated generals of his age, formed for times of trouble, extremely artful and inconteſtibly brave, equally ſkilful in council and the field, and inſpired with a degree of hatred againſt the queen that nothing could ſuppreſs. He commanded an army, in which he led about the captive king to give a ſanction to his attempts. Upon the approach of the Lancaſtrians he conducted his forces, ſtrengthened by a body of Londoners, who were very affectionate to his cauſe, and he gave battle to the queen at St. Alban's. In this however he was defeated. Above two thouſand of the Yorkiſts periſhed in the battle, and the perſon of the king again fell into the hands of his own party; to be treated with apparent reſpect, but real contempt.

In the mean time, young Edward, the eldeſt ſon of the late duke of York, began to repair the loſſes his party had lately ſuſtained, and to give ſpirit to the Yorkiſts. This prince, in the bloom of youth, [Page 116] remarkable for the beauty of his perſon, his bravery, and popular deportment, advanced towards London with the remainder of Warwick's army; and obliging Margaret to retire, entered the city amidſt the acclamations of the people. Perceiving his own popularity, [Note: A. D. 1461.] he ſuppoſed that now was the time to lay his claim to the crown; and his friend Warwick, aſſembling the citizens in St. John's fields, pronounced an harangue, ſetting forth the title of Edward, and inveighing againſt the tyranny and uſurpation of the houſe of Lancaſter. Both ſides at length met near Touton, in the county of York, to decide the fate of empire, and never was England depopulated by ſo terrible an engagement. It was a dreadful ſight to behold an hundred thouſand men of the ſame country engaged agaiſt each other; and all to ſatisfy the empty ambition of the weakeſt, or the worſt of mankind. While the army of Edward was advancing to the charge, there happened a great fall of ſnow; which driving full in the faces of the enemy, blinded them, and this advantage, ſeconded by an impetuous onſet, decided the victory in their favour. Edward iſſued orders to give no quarter; and a bloody ſlaughter enſued, in which near forty thouſand of the Lancaſtrians were ſlain.

The weak unfortunate Henry, always imprudent, and always unſucceſsful, was taken priſoner, carried to London with ignominy, and confined in the Tower. Margaret was rather more fortunate; ſhe contrived to eſcape out of the kingdom, and took refuge with her father in Flanders.

Edward being now, by means of the earl of Warwick, fixed upon the throne, reigned in peace and ſecurity, while his title was recognized, by parliament, [Note: A. D. 1464.] and univerſally ſubmitted to by the people. He began, therefore, to give a looſe to his favourite paſſions; and a ſpirit of gallantry, mixed with cruelty, was ſeen to prevail in his [Page 117] court. In the very ſame palace, which one day exhibitted a ſpectacle of horror, was to be ſeen the day following a maſk or a pageant; and the king would at once gallant a miſtreſs, and inſpect an execution. In order to turn him from theſe purſuits, which were calculated to render him unpopular, the earl of Warwick adviſed him to marry; and, with his conſent, went over to France to procure Bona of Savoy as queen, and the match was accordingly concluded. But whilſt the earl was haſtening the negotiation in France, the king himſelf rendered it abortive at home, by marrying Elizabeth Woodville, with whom he had fallen in love, and whom he had vainly endeavoured to debauch. Having thus given Warwick real cauſe of offence, he was reſolved to widen the breach, by driving him from the council. Warwick, whoſe prudence was equal to his bravery, ſoon made uſe of both to aſſiſt his revenge; and formed ſuch a combination againſt Edward that he was, in turn, obliged to fly the kingdom.

Thus, once more the poor paſſive king Henry was releaſed from priſon to be placed upon a dangerous throne. A parliament was called, which confirmed Henry's title with great ſolemnity; and Warwick was himſelf received among the people under the title of the King-maker.

But Edward's party, though repreſſed, was not deſtroyed. Though an exile in Holland, he had many partizans at home; and after an abſence of nine months, being ſeconded by a ſmall body of forces, granted him by the duke of Burgundy, he made a deſcent at Ravenſpur in Yorkſhire. Though, at firſt, he was coolly received by the Engliſh, yet his army encreaſed upon his march, while his moderation and feigned humility ſtill added to the number of his partizans. London, at that time, ever ready to admit the moſt powerful, opened her gates to him; and the wretched Henry was once more plucked from [Page 118] his throne, to be ſent back to his former manſion.

Nothing now, therefore, remained to Warwick, but to cut ſhort a ſtate of anxious ſuſpenſe by hazarding a battle. Edward's fortune prevailed. They met at St. Albans, and the Lancaſtrians were defeated, while Warwick himſelf, leading a choſen body of troops into the thickeſt of the ſlaughter, fell in the midſt of his enemies, covered with wounds.

Margaret, receiving the fatal news of the death of the brave Warwick, and the total deſtruction of her party, gave way to her grief, for the firſt time, in a torrent of tears; and yielding to her unhappy fate, took ſanctuary in the abbey of Beaulieu, in Hampſhire.

She had not been long in this melancholy abode before ſhe found ſome few friends ſtill willing to aſſiſt her fallen fortunes. Tudor, earl of Pembroke, Courtney, earl of Devonſhire, the lords Wenlock, and St. John, with other men of rank, exhorted her ſtill to hope for ſucceſs, and offered to aſſiſt her to the laſt. She had now fought battles in almoſt every province in England; Tewkeſbury-park was the laſt ſcene that terminated her attempts. The duke of Somerſet headed her army; a man who had ſhared her dangers, and had ever been ſteady in her cauſe. He was valiant, generous, and polite; but raſh and headſtrong. When Edward firſt attacked him in his intrenchments, he repulſed him with ſuch vigour, that the enemy retired with precipitation; upon which the duke, ſuppoſing them routed, purſued, and ordered lord Wenlock to ſupport his charge. But unfortunately this lord diſobeyed his orders; and Somerſet's forces were ſoon overpowered by numbers. In this dreadful exigence, the duke, finding that all was over, became ungovernable in his rage; and beholding Wenlock inactive, and remaining in the very place where he had firſt drawn up his men [Page 119] giving way to his fury, with his heavy battle-ax in both hands, he ran upon the coward, and with one blow daſhed out his brains.

The queen and the prince were taken priſoners after the battle, and brought into the preſence of Edward. The young prince appeared before the conqueror with undaunted majeſty; and being aſked, in an inſulting manner, how he dared to invade England without leave, the young prince, more mindful of his high birth than of his ruined fortune, replied, "I have entered the dominions of my father, to revenge his injuries, and redreſs my own." The barbarous Edward, enraged at his intrepidity, ſtruck him on the mouth with his gauntlet; and this ſerved as a ſignal for further brutality: the dukes of Glouceſter, Clarence, and others, like wild beaſts, ruſhing on the unarmed youth at once, ſtabbed him to the heart with their daggers. To complete the tragedy, Henry himſelf, who had long been the paſſive ſpectator of all theſe horrors, was now thought unfit to live. The duke of Glouceſter, afterwards Richard the Third, entering his chamber-alone, murdered him in cold blood. Of all thoſe that were taken, none were ſuffered to ſurvive but Margaret herſelf. It was perhaps expected that ſhe would be ranſomed by the king of France; and in this they were not deceived, as that monarch paid the king of England fifty thouſand crowns for her freedom. This extraordinary woman, after having ſuſtained the cauſe of her huſband in twelve battles, after having ſurvived her friends, fortunes, and children, died a few years after in privacy in France, very miſerable indeed; but with few other claims to our pity, except her courage and her diſtreſſes.


[Page 120]

EDWARD being now freed from great enemies, turned the puniſhment to thoſe of leſſer note; ſo that the gibbets were hung with his adverſaries, and their eſtates confiſcated to his uſe.

While he was thus rendering himſelf terrible on the one hand, he was immerſed in abandoned pleaſures on the other. Nature, it ſeems, was not unfavourable to him in that reſpect; as he was univerſally allowed to be the moſt beautiful man of his time. His courtiers alſo ſeemed willing to encourage thoſe debaucheries in which they had a ſhare; and the clergy, as they themſelves practiſed every kind of lewdneſs with impunity, were ever ready to lend abſolution to all his failings. The truth is, enormous vices had been of late ſo common, that adultery was held but as a very ſlight offence. Among the number of his miſtreſſes was the wife of one Shore, a merchant in the city, a woman of exquiſite beauty and good ſenſe, but who had not virtue enough to reſiſt the temptations of a beautiful man, and a monarch.

Among his other cruelties, that to his brother the duke of Clarence is the moſt remarkable. The king hunting one day in the park of Thomas Burdet, a creature of the duke's killed a white buck, which was a great favourite of the owner. Burdet, vexed at the loſs, broke into a paſſion, and wiſhed the horns of the deer in the belly of the perſon who bad adviſed the king to that inſult. For this trifling exclamation Burdet was tried for his life, and publickly executed at Tyburn. The duke of Clarence, upon the death of his friend, vented his grief in renewed [Page 121] reproaches againſt his brother, and exclaimed againſt the iniquity of the ſentence. The king highly offended with this liberty, or uſing that as a pretext againſt him, had him arraigned before the houſe of peers, and appeared in perſon as his accuſer. In thoſe times of confuſion, every crime alledged by the prevailing party was fatal; the duke was found guilty; and being granted a choice of the manner in which he would die, he was privately drowned in a butt of malmſey in the tower; a whimſical choice, and implying that he had an extraordinary paſſion for that liquor.

However, if this monarch's reign was tyrannical, it was but ſhort; while he was employed in making preparations for a war with France, he was ſeized with a diſtemper, of which he expired in the forty-ſecond year of his age, and (counting from the death of the late king) in the twenty-third of his reign.


THE duke of Glouceſter, who had been made protector of the realm, upon a pretence of guarding the perſons of the late king's children from danger, conveyed them both to the Tower.

Having thus ſecured them, his next ſtep was to ſpread a report of their illegitimacy; and by pretended obſtacles, to put off the day appointed for young Edward's coronation. His next aim was to diſpatch lord Haſtings, whom he knew to be warmly in the young king's intereſt.

Having ſummoned lord Haſtings to a council in the Tower, he entered the room knitting his brows, biting his lips, and ſhewing, by a frequent change of countenance, the ſigns of ſome inward perturbation. [Page 122] A ſilence enſued for ſome time; and the the lords of the council looked upon each other, not without reaſon, expecting ſome horrid cataſtrophe. Laying bare his arm all ſhrivelled and decayed, he accuſed Jane Shore and her accomplices of having produced this deformity by their ſorcereſs, upon which Haſtings cried, "If they have committed ſuch a crime, they deſerve puniſhment." "If! cried the protector, with a loud voice, doſt thou anſwer me with Iſs? I tell thee that they have conſpired my death; and that thou, traitor, art an accomplice in the crime." He then ſtruck the table twice with his hand; and the room was inſtantly filled with armed men. "I arreſt thee, continues he, turning to Haſtings, for high treaſon; and at the ſame time gave him in charge to the ſoldiers. Haſtings was obliged to make a ſhort confeſſion to the next prieſt that was at hand; the protector crying out, By St. Paul, that he would not dine till he had ſeen his head taken off. He was accordingly hurried out to the Little Green before the Tower-chapel, and there beheaded on a log of wood, that accidentally lay in the way.

Jane Shore, the late king's miſtreſs, was the next that felt his indignation. This unfortunate woman was an enemy too humble to excite his jealouſy; yet as he had accuſed her of witchcraft, of which all the world ſaw ſhe was innocent, he thought proper to make her an example, for thoſe faults of which ſhe was really guilty. Jane Shore had been formerly deluded from her huſband, who was a goldſmith in Lombard Street, and continued to live with Edward, the moſt guiltleſs miſtreſs in his abandoned court. It was very probable, that the people were not diſpleaſed at ſeeing one again reduced to former meaneſs, who had for a while been raiſed above them, and enjoyed the ſmiles of a court. The charge againſt her was too notorious to be denied; ſhe pleaded [Page 123] guilty, and was accordingly condemned to walk bare-foot through the city, and to do penance in St. Paul's church in a white ſheet, with wax-taper in her hand, before thouſands of ſpectators. She lived above forty years after this ſentence, and was reduced to the moſt extreme indigence

The protector now began to throw off the maſk, and to deny his pretended regard for the ſons of the late king, thinking it high time to aſpire at the throne more openly. He had previouſly gained over the duke of Buckingham, a man of talents and power, by bribes and promiſes of future favour. This nobleman therefore uſed all his arts to cajole the populace and citizens at St. Paul's croſs, and conſtruing their ſilence, into conſent, his followers cried, "Long live king Richard." Soon after the mayor and aldermen, waiting upon Richard with an offer of the crown, he accepted it with ſeeming reluctance.


ONE crime ever draws on another; [Note: A. D. 1483.] juſſtice will revolt againſt fraud, and uſurpation requires ſecurity. As ſoon, herefore, as Richard was ſeated upon the throne, he ſent the governor of the Tower orders to put the two young princes to death; but this brave man, whoſe name was Brackenbury, refuſed to be made the inſtrument of a tyrant's will; and ſubmiſſively anſwered, that he knew not how to embrue his hands in innocent blood. A ſit inſtrument, however, was not long wanting; Sir James Tyrrel readily undertook the office, and Brackenbury was ordered to reſign to him the keys for one night. Tyrrel chuſing three aſſociates, Slater, Deighton, [Page 124] and Foreſt, came in the night-time to the door of the chamber where the princes were lodged, and ſending in the aſſaſſins, he bid them execute their commiſſion, while he himſelf ſtaid without. They found the young princes in bed, and fallen into a ſound ſleep: after ſuffocating them with the bolſter and pillows, they ſhewed their naked bodies to Tyrrel, who ordered them to be buried at the ſtair-foot, deep in the ground, under an heap of ſtones.

But while he thus endeavoured to eſtabliſh his power, he found it threatened on a quarter where he leaſt expected an attack. The duke of Buckingham, who had been inſtrumental in placing him on the throne, now took diſguſt at being refuſed ſome confiſcated lands for which he ſolicited. He therefore levied a body of men in Wales, and advanced by haſty marches towards Glouceſter, where he deſigned to croſs the Severn. Juſt at that time the river was ſwoln to ſuch a degree, that the country on both ſides was deluged, and even the tops of ſome hills were covered with water. This inundation continued for ten days; during which Buckingham's army, compoſed of Welſhmen, could neither paſs the river, nor find ſubſiſtence on their own ſide; they were therefore obliged to diſperſe and return home, notwithſtanding all the duke's efforts to prolong their ſtay. In this helpleſs ſituation, the duke, after a ſhort deliberation, took refuge at the houſe of one Baniſter, who had been his ſervant, and who had received repeated obligations from his family; but the wicked ſeldom find, as they ſeldom exert, friendſhip. Baniſter, unable to reſiſt the temptation of a large reward that was ſet upon the duke's head, went and betrayed him to the ſheriff of Shropſhire; who, ſurrounding the houſe with armed men, ſeized the duke, in the habit of a peaſant, and conducted him to Saliſbury; where he was inſtantly tried, condemned, and executed, according to the ſummary method practiſed in thoſe ages.

[Page 125] Amidſt the perplexity cauſed by many diſagreeable occurrences, he received information, that the earl of Richmond was making, preparations to land in England, and aſſert his claims to the crown. Richard, who knew not in what quarter he might expect the invader, had taken poſt at Nottingham, in the centre of the kingdom; and had given commiſſions to ſeveral of his creatures, to oppoſe the enemy wherever he ſhould land.

Some time after, however, the earl of Richmond, who was a deſcendant from John of Gaunt, by the female line, reſolved to ſtrike for the crown. He had been long obnoxious to the houſe of York, and had been obliged to quit the kingdom; but he now knowing how odious the king was, ſet out from Harfleur in Normandy, with a retinue of about two thouſand perſons; and after a voyage of ſix days arrived at Milford-Haven, in Wales, where he landed without oppoſition.

Upon news of this deſcent, Richard who was poſſeſſed of courage and military conduct, his only virtues, inſtantly reſolved to meet his antagoniſt, and decide their mutual pretenſions by a battle. Richmond, on the other hand, being reinforced by Sir Thomas Bourchier, Sir Walter Hungerford, and others to the number of about ſix thouſand, boldly advanced with the ſame intention; and in a few days both armies drew near Boſworth-field, where the conteſt that had now for more than forty years filled the kingdom with civil commotions and deluged its plains with blood, was determined by the death of Richard, who was ſlain in battle, while Richmond was ſaluted king by the title of Henry the Seventh.


[Page 126]

[Note: A. D. 1485.]HENRY's firſt care upon coming to the throne was to marry the princeſs Elizabeth, daughter of Edward the Fourth; and thus he blended the intereſts of the houſes of York and Lancaſter, ſo that ever after they werein capable of diſtinction.

A great part of the miſeries of his predeceſſors proceeded from their poverty, which was moſtly occaſioned by riot and diſſipation. Henry ſaw that money alone could turn the ſcale of power in his favour; and therefore hoarded up all the confiſcations of his enemies with the utmoſt frugality.

Immediately after his marriage with Elizabeth, he iſſued a general pardon to all ſuch as choſe to accept it; but people were become ſo turbulent and factious by a long courſe of civil war, that no governor could rule them, nor any king pleaſe; ſo that one rebellion ſeemed extinguiſhed only to give riſe to another.

There lived in Oxford one Richard Simon, a prieſt, who poſſeſſing ſome ſubtlety and more raſhneſs, trained up Lambert Simnel, a baker's ſon, to counterfeit the perſon of the earl of Warwick, the ſon of the duke of Clarence, who was ſmothered in a butt of malmſey. But as the impoſture was not calculated to bear a cloſe inſpection, it was thought proper to ſhew him firſt at a diſtance; and Ireland was judged the fitteſt theatre for him to ſupport his aſſumed character.

In this manner king Simnel, being joined by lord Lovel, and one or two lords more of the diſcontented party, reſolved to paſs over into England; and accordingly landed in Lancaſhire, from whence he marched to York, expecting the countrwould riſe [Page 127] and join him as he marched along. But in this he was deceived; the people averſe to join a body of German and Iriſh troops, by whom he was ſupported, and kept in awe by the king's reputation, remained in tranquility, or gave all their aſſiſtance to the royal cauſe. The earl of Lincoln, therefore, a diſaffected lord, to whom the command of the rebel army was given, finding no hopes but in ſpeedy victory, was determined to bring the conteſt to a ſhort iſſue. The oppoſite armies met at Stoke, in the county of Nottingham, and ſought a battle, which was more bloody, and more obſtinately diſputed, than could have been expected from the inequality of their forces. But victory at length declared in favour of the king, and it proved deciſive. Lord Lincoln periſhed in the field of battle; lord Lovel was never more heard of, and it was ſuppoſed he ſhared the ſame ſate. Simnel, with his tutor Simon, were taken priſoners; and four thouſand of the common men fell in battle. Simon being a prieſt could not be tried by the civil power, and was only committed to cloſe confinement. Simnel was too contemptible to excite the king's fears or reſentment; he was pardoned, and made a ſcullion in the king's kitchen, whence he was afterwards advanced to the rank of falconer, in which mean employment he died.

A freſh inſurrection began in Yorkſhire, the people reſiſting the commiſſioners who were appointed to levy the tax. The earl of Northumberland attempted to enforce the king's command; but the populace, being by this taught to believe that he was the adviſer of their oppreſſions, flew to arms, attacked his houſe, and put him to death. The mutineers did not ſtop there; but, by the advice of one John Achamber, a ſeditious fellow of mean birth, they choſe Sir John Egremont for their leader, and prepared themſelves for a vigorous reſiſtance. The king, upon hearing [Page 128] this raſh proceeding, immediately levied a force which he put under the earl of Surry; and this nobleman encountering the rebels, diſſipated the tumult, and took their leader, Achamber, priſoner. A chamber was ſhortly after executed; but Sir John Egremont fled to the court of the dutcheſs of Burgundy, the uſual retreat of all who were obnoxious to government in England.

One would have imagined, that from the ill ſucceſs of Simnel's impoſture, [Note: A. D. 1492.] few would be willing to embark in another of a ſimilar kind; however, the old dutcheſs of Burgundy, rather irritated than diſcouraged by the failure of her paſt enterprizes, was determined to diſturb that government, which ſhe could not ſubvert. She firſt procured a report to be ſpread, that the young duke of York, ſaid to have been murdered in the Tower, was ſtill living; and finding the rumour greedily received, ſhe ſoon produced a young man who aſſumed his name and character. The perſon pitched upon to ſuſtain this part was one Oſbeck or Warbeck, the ſon of a converted Jew, who had been over in England during the reign of Edward IV. where he had this ſon named Peter, but corrupted after the Flemiſh manner, into Peterkin or Perkin. The ducheſs of Burgundy found this youth entirely ſuited to her purpoſes; and her leſſons, inſtructing him to perſonate the duke of York, were eaſily learned and ſtrongly retained by a youth of very quick apprehenſion. In ſhort, his graceful air, his courtly addreſs, his eaſy manners, and elegant converſation, were capable of impoſing upon all but ſuch as were conſcious of the impoſture.

The Engliſh, ever ready to revolt, gave credit to all theſe abſurdities; while the young man's prudence, converſation, and deportment, ſerved to confirm what their diſaffection and credulity had begun.

[Page 129] Among thoſe who ſecretly abetted the cauſe of Perkin, were lord Fitzwater, Sir Simon Mountford, Sir Thomas Thwaits, and Sir Robert Clifford. But the perſon of the greateſt weight, and the moſt dangerous oppoſition, was Sir William Stanley, the lord Chamberlain, and brother to the famous lord Stanley, who had contributed to place Henry on the throne. This perſonage, either moved by a blind credulity, or more probably by a reſtleſs ambition, entered into a regular conſpiracy againſt the king; and a correſpondence was ſettled between the malecontents in England and thoſe in Flanders.

While the plot was thus carrying on in all quarters, Henry was not inattentive to the deſigns of his enemies. He ſpared neither labour nor expence to detect the falſehood of the pretender to his crown; and was equally aſſiduous in finding out who were his ſecret abettors. For this purpoſe he diſperſed his ſpies through all Flanders, and brought over, by large bribes, ſome of thoſe whom he knew to be in the enemies intereſts. Among theſe, Sir Robert Clifford was the moſt remarkable, both for his conſequence, and the confidence with which he was truſted. From this perſon Henry learnt the whole of Perkin's birth and adventures, together with the names of all thoſe who had ſecretly combined to aſſiſt him. The king was pleaſed with the diſcovery; but the more truſt he gave to his ſpies, the higher reſentment did he feign againſt them.

At firſt he was ſtruck with indignation at the ingratitude of many of thoſe about him; but concealing his reſentment for a proper opportunity, he, almoſt at the ſame inſtant, arreſted Fitzwater, Mountfort, and Thwaits, together with William Danbery, Robert Ratcliff, Thomas Creſſenor, and Thomas Aſtwood. All theſe were arraigned, convicted, and condemned for high treaſon. Mountfort, Ratcliff, [Page 130] and Danbery, were immediately executed; the reſt received pardon.

The young adventurer finding his hopes fruſtrated in England, went next to try his fortune in Scotland. In that country his luck ſeemed greater than in England. James the Fourth, the king of that country, received him with great cordiality; he was ſeduced to believe the ſtory of his birth and adventures; and he carried his confidence ſo far, as to give him in marriage lady Catharine Gordon, daughter to the earl of Huntley; and a near kinſwoman of his own; a young lady eminent for virtue as well as beauty. But not content with theſe inſtances of favour, he was reſolved to attempt ſetting him on the throne of England. It was naturally expected, that upon Perkin's firſt appearance in that kingdom, all the friends of the houſe of York would riſe in his favour. Upon this ground, therefore, the king of Scotland entered England with a numerous army, and proclaimed the young adventurer wherever he went. But Perkin's pretenſions, attended by repeated diſappointments, were now become ſtale even in the eyes of the populace; ſo that, contrary to expectation, none were found to ſecond his pretenſions.

In this manner the reſtleſs Perkin being diſmiſſed Scotland, [Note: A. D. 1497.] and meeting with a very cold reception from the Flemings, who now deſired to be at peace with the Engliſh, reſolved to continue his ſcheme of oppoſition; and took refuge among the wilds and faſtneſſes of Ireland. Impatient of an inactive life, he held a conſultation with his followers, Herne, Skelton, and Aſtley, three broken tradeſmen; and by their advice he reſolved to try the affections of the Corniſh men, and he no ſooner made his appearance among them at Bodmin in Cornwall than the populace, to the number of three thouſand flocked to his ſtandard. Elated with this appearance of ſucceſs, he took on him, for the firſt time, the [Page 131] title of Richard the Fourth, king of England; and, not to ſuffer the ſpirits of his adherents to languiſh, he led them to the gates of Exeter. Finding the inhabitants obſtinate in refuſing to admit him, and being unprovided with artillery to force an entrance, he broke up the ſiege of Exeter, and retired to Taunton. His followers by this time amounted to ſeven thouſand men, and appeared ready to defend his cauſe: but his heart failed him, upon being informed that the king was coming down to oppoſe him; and inſtead of bringing his men into the field, he privately deſerted them, and took ſanctuary in the monaſtery of Beaulieu, in the New Foreſt. His wretched adherents, left to the king's mercy, found him ſtill willing to pardon; and, except a few of the ring-leaders, none were treated with capital ſeverity. At the ſame time ſome perſons were employed to treat with Perkin, and to perſuade him, under promiſe of a pardon, to deliver himſelf up to juſtice, and to confeſs and explain all the circumſtances of his impoſture. His affairs being altogether deſperate, he embraced the king's offers, without heſitation, and quitted the ſanctuary. Henry being deſirous of ſeeing him, he was brought to court, and conducted through the ſtreets of London in a kind of mock triumph, amidſt the deriſion and inſults of the populace, which he bore with the moſt dignified reſignation. He was then compelled to ſign a confeſſion of his former life and conduct, which was printed and diſperſed throughout the nation: but it was ſo defective and contradictory, that inſtead of explaining the pretended impoſture, it left it ſtill more doubtful than before; and this youth's real pretenſions are to this very day an object of diſpute among the learned.

After attempting once or twice to eſcape from cuſtody, he was hanged at Tyburn, and ſeveral of his adherents ſuffered the ſame ignominious death.

There had been hitherto nothing in this reign but plots, treaſons, inſurrections, impoſtures, and executions; [Page 132] and it is probable that Henry's ſeverity proceeded from the continual alarms in which they held him. It is certain, that no prince ever loved peace more than he; and much of the ill-will of his ſubjects aroſe from his attempts to repreſs their inclinations for war. The uſual preface to all his treaties was, "That when Chriſt came into the world peace was ſung; and when he went out of the world peace was bequeathed."

He had all along two points in view; one to depreſs the nobility and clergy, and the other to exalt and humanize the populace. With this view he procured an act, by which the nobility were granted a power of diſpoſing of their eſtates; a law infinitely pleaſing to the commons, and not diſagreeable even to the nobles, ſince they had thus an immediate reſource for ſupplying their taſte for prodigality, and anſwering the demands of their creditors. The blow reached them in their poſterity alone; but they were too ignorant to be affected by ſuch diſtant diſtreſſes.

He was not leſs remiſs in abridging the pope's power, while, at the ſame time, he profeſſed the utmoſt ſubmiſſion to his commands, and the greateſt reſpect for the clergy. But while he thus employed his power in lowering the influence of the nobles and clergy, he was uſing every art to extend the privileges of the people. In fact, his greateſt efforts were directed to promote trade and commerce, becauſe this naturally introduced a ſpirit of liberty, and diſengaged them from all dependence, except upon the laws and the king. Before this great aera, all our towns owed their original to ſome ſtrong caſtle in the neighbourhood, where ſome powerful lord generally reſided. Theſe were at once fortreſſes for protection, and priſons for all ſorts of criminals. In this caſtle there was uſually a garriſon armed and provided, depending entirely on the nobleman's ſupport and aſſiſtance. To theſe ſeats of protection, artificers, victuallers, [Page 133] and ſhop-keepers, naturally reſorted, and ſettled on ſome adjacent ſpot to furniſh the lord and his attendants with all the neceſſaries they might require. The farmers alſo, and the huſbandmen in the neighbourhood, built their houſes there to be protected againſt the numerous gangs of robbers, called Robertſmen, that hid themſelves in the woods by day, and infeſted the open country by night. Henry endeavoured to bring the towns from ſuch a neighbourbood, by inviting the inhabitants to a more commercial ſituation. He attempted to teach them frugality, and a juſt payment of debts, by his own example; and never once omitted the rights of the merchant, in all his treaties with foreign princes.

Henry having thus ſeen England in a great meaſure civilized by his endeavours, his people pay their taxes without conſtraint, the nobles confeſſing ſubordination, the laws alone inflicting puniſhment, the towns beginning to live independant of the powerful, commerce every day encreaſing, the ſpirit of faction extinguiſhed, and foreigners either fearing England or ſeeking its alliance, he began to ſee the approaches of his end, [Note: A. D. 1509.] and died of the gout in his ſtomach, having lived fifty-two years, and reigned twenty-three. Since the times of Alfred, England had not ſeen ſuch another king. He rendered his ſubjects powerful and happy, and wrought a greater change in the manners of the people, than it was poſſible to ſuppoſe could be effected in ſo ſhort a time.


[Page 134]

NO prince ever came to the throne with a conjuncture of circumſtances more in his favour than Henry VIII. who now, in the eighteenth year of his age, [Note: A. D. 1509.] undertook the government of the kingdom.

And as he was at the head of a formidable army, fifty thouſand ſtrong, and as a war with France was the moſt pleaſing to the people, he determined to head his forces for the conqueſt of that kingdom. But France was not threatened by him alone; the Swiſs, on another quarter, with twenty-five thouſand men, were preparing to invade it; while Ferdinand of Arragon, whom no treaties could bind, was only waiting for a convenient opportunity of attack on his ſide to advantage. Never was the French monarchy in ſo diſtreſſed a ſituation; but the errors of its aſſailants procured its ſafety.

After an oſtentatious but ineffectual campaign, a truce was concluded between the two kingdoms; and Henry continued to diſſipate, in more peaceful follies, thoſe immenſe ſums which had been amaſſed by his predeceſſor for very different purpoſes.

In this manner, while his pleaſures on the one hand engroſſed Henry's time, the preparations for repeated expeditions exhauſted his treaſures on the other. As it was natural to ſuppoſe the old miniſters, who were appointed to direct him by his father, would not willingly concur in theſe idle projects, Henry had, for ſome time, diſcontinued aſking their advice, and chiefly conſided in the counſels of Thomas, afterwards cardinal Wolſey, who ſeemed to ſecond him in his favourite purſuits. Wolſey was a [Page 135] miniſter who complied with all his maſter's inclinations, and flattered him in every ſcheme to which his ſanguine and impetuous temper was inclined. He was the ſon of a private gentleman, and not of a butcher, as is commonly reported, of Ipſwich. He was ſent to Oxford ſo early, that he was a bachelor at fourteen, and at that time was called the Boy Bachelor. He roſe by degrees, upon quitting college, from one preferment to another, till he was made recor of Lymington by the marquis of Dorſet, whoſe children he had inſtructed. He had not long reſided at this living, when one of the juſtices of the peace put him in the ſtocks for being drunk, and raiſing diſturbances at a neighbouring fair. This diſgrace, however, did not retard his promotion; for he was recommended as chaplain to Henry the Seventh; and being employed by that monarch in a ſecret negotiation reſpecting his intended marriage with Margaret of Savoy, he acquitted himſelf to that king's ſatisfaction, and obtained the praiſe both of diligence and dexterity. That prince having given him a commiſſion to Maximilian, who, at that time, reſided at Bruſſels, was ſurpriſed in leſs than three days after to ſee Wolſey preſent himſelf before him; and, ſuppoſing that he had been delinquent, began to reprove his delay. Wolſey, however, ſurpriſed him with aſſurances that he was juſt returned from Bruſſels, and had ſucceſsfully fulfilled all his majeſty's commands. His diſpatch, on that occaſion, procured him the deanery of Lincoln, and in this ſituation it was that he was introduced by Fox, biſhop of Wincheſter, to the young king's notice, in hopes that he would have talents to ſupplant the earl of Surry, who was favourite at that time, and in this Fox was not out in his conjectures. Preſently after, being introduced at court, he was made a privy counſellor; and as ſuch, had frequent opportunities of ingratiating himſelf with the young king, as he appeared at once complying, ſubmiſſive, [Page 136] and enterpriſing. Wolſey uſed every art to ſuit himſelf to the royal temper; he ſung, laughed, and danced with every libertine of the court: neither his own years, which were near forty, nor his character as a clergyman, were any reſtraint upon him, or tended to check, by ill-timed ſeverities, the gaiety of his companions. To ſuch a weak and vicious monarch as Henry, qualities of this nature were highly pleaſing; and Wolſey was ſoon acknowledged as his chief favourite, and to him was entruſted the chief adminiſtration of affairs. The people began to ſee with indignation the new favourite's mean condeſcenſions to the king, and his arrogance to themſelves. They had long regarded the vicious haughtineſs, and the unbecoming ſplendour of the clergy, with envy and deteſtation; and Wolſey's greatneſs ſerved to bring a new odium upon that body, already too much the object of the people's diſlike. His character being now placed in a more conſpicuous point of light, daily began to manifeſt itſelf the more. Inſatiable in his acquiſitions, but ſtill more magnificent in his expence; of extenſive capacity, but ſtill more unbounded in enterprize; ambitious of power, but ſtill more deſirous of glory; inſinuating, engaging, perſuaſive, and at other times, lofty, elevated, and commanding: haughty to his equals, but affable to his dependants; oppreſſive to the people, but liberal to his friends; more generous than grateful; formed to take the aſcendant in every intercourſe, but vain enough not to cover his real ſuperiority.

In order to divert the envy of the public from his inordinate exaltation, he ſoon entered into a correſpondence with Francis the Firſt, of France, who had taken many methods to work upon his vanity, and at laſt ſucceeded. In conſequence of that monarch's wiſhes, Henry was perſuaded by the cardinal to an interview with that prince. This expenſive congreſs was held between Guiſnes and Ardres, near [Page 137] Calais, within the Engliſh pale, in compliment to Henry for croſſing the ſea.

Some months before a defiance had been ſent by the two kings to each other's court, [Note: A. D. 1520.] and through all the chief cities of Europe, importing, that Henry and Francis, with fourteen aids, would be ready in the plains of Picardy to anſwer all comers that were gentlemen, at tilt and tourney. Accordingly, the monarchs now all gorgeouſly apparelled, entered the liſts on horſeback, Francis ſurrounded with Henry's guards, and Henry with thoſe of Francis. They were both at that time the moſt comely perſonages of their age, and prided themſelves on their expertneſs in the military exerciſes. The ladies were the judges in theſe feats of chivalry; and they put an end to the encounter whenever they thought proper. It is ſuppoſed that the crafty French monarch was willing to gratify Henry's vanity by allowing him to enjoy a petty pre-eminence in theſe paſtimes. He ran a tilt againſt Monſieur Grandeval, whom he diſabled at the ſecond encounter. He engaged Monſieur de Montmorency, whom, however, he could not throw from the ſaddle. He fought at faulchion with a French nobleman, who preſented him with his courſer, in token of ſubmiſſion.

By this time, all the immenſe treaſures of the late king were quite exhauſted on empty pageants, guilty pleaſures, or vain treaties and expeditions. But the king relied on Wolſey alone for repleniſhing his coffers; and no perſon could be fitter for the purpoſe. His firſt care was to get a large ſum of money from the people, under the title of a benevolence, which added to its being extorted the mortification of being conſidered as a free gift. Henry little minded the manner of its being raiſed, provided he had the enjoyment of it; however, his miniſter met with ſome oppoſition in his attempts to levy theſe extorted contributions. [Page 138] In the firſt place, having exacted a conſiderable ſubſidy from the clergy, he next addreſſed himſelf to the houſe of commons; but they only granted him half the ſupplies he demanded. Wolſey was at firſt highly offended at their parſimony, and deſired to be heard in the houſe; but as this would have deſtroyed the very form and conſtitution of that auguſt body, they replied, that none could be permitted to ſit and argue there, but ſuch as had been elected members. This was the firſt attempt made in this reign to render the king maſter of the debates in parliament. Wolſey firſt paved the way; and, unfortunately for the kingdom, Henry too well improved upon his plans ſoon after.

Hitherto the adminiſtration of all affairs was carried on by Wolſey; for the king was contented to loſe, in the embraces of his miſtreſſes, all the complaints of his ſubjects; and the cardinal undertook to keep him ignorant, in order to continue his own uncontrolled authority. But now a period was approaching, that was to put an end to this miniſter's exorbitant power. One of the moſt extraordinary and important revolutions that ever employed the attention of man, was now ripe for execution. This was no leſs a change than the Reformation.

The vices and impoſitions of the church of Rome were now almoſt come to a head; and the encreaſe of arts and learning among the laity, propagated by means of printing, which had been lately invented, began to make them reſiſt that power, which was originally founded in deceit. [Note: A. D. 1519.] Leo the Tenth was at that time pope, and eagerly employed in building the church of St. Peter at Rome. In order to procure money for carrying on that expenſive undertaking, he gave a commiſſion for ſelling indulgences, a practice that had been often tried before. Theſe were to free the purchaſer from the pains of purgatory; and [Page 139] they would ſerve even for one's friends, if purchaſed with that intention. There were every where ſhops opened, where they were to be ſold; but in general they were to be had at taverns, brothels, and gaming houſes. The Auguſtine friars had uſually been employed in Saxony to preach the indulgences, and from this truſt had derived both profit and conſideration; but the pope's miniſter ſuppoſing that they had found out illicit methods of ſecreting the money, transferred this lucrative employment from them to the Dominicans. Martin Luther, profeſſor in the univerſity of Wirtemberg, was an Auguſtine monk, and one of thoſe who reſented this transfer of the ſale of indulgencies from one order to another. He began to ſhew his indignation by preaching againſt their efficacy; and being naturally of a fiery temper, and provoked by oppoſition, he inveighed againſt the authority of the pope himſelf. Being driven hard by his adverſaries, ſtill as he enlarged his reading, in order to ſupport his tenets, he diſcovered ſome new abuſe or error in the church of Rome. In this diſpute, it was the fate of Henry to be a champion on both ſides. His father, who had given him the education of a ſcholar, permitted him to be inſtructed in ſchool-divinity, which then was the principal object of learned enquiry. Henry, therefore, willing to convince the world of his abilities in that ſcience, obtained the pope's permiſſion to read the works of Luther, which had been forbidden, under pain of excommunication. In conſequence of this, the king defended the ſeven ſacraments, out of St. Thomas Aquinas; and ſhewed ſome dexterity in this ſcience, though it is thought that Wolſey had the chief hand in directing him. A book being thus finiſhed in haſte, it was ſent to Rome for the pope's approbation, which it is natural to ſuppoſe would not be with-held. The pontiff, raviſhed with its eloquence and depth, compared it to the labours of St. [Page 140] Jerome or St. Auguſtine; and rewarded the author with the title of DEFENDER OF THE FAITH, little imagining that Henry was ſoon to be one of the moſt terrible enemies that ever the church of Rome had to contend with.

[Note: A. D. 1527.]Henry had now been eighteen years married to Catharine of Arragon, who, had been brought over from Spain, and married his elder brother, who died a few months after co-habitation. But notwithſtanding the ſubmiſſive deference paid to the indulgence of the church, Henry's marriage with this princeſs did not paſs without ſcruple and heſitation, both on his own ſide, and on that of the people. However, it was carried forward, though perhaps not at firſt excited, by a motive much more powerful than the tacit ſuggeſtions of his conſcience. It happened that among the maids of honour then attending the queen, there was one Anna Bullen, the daughter of Sir Thomas Bullen, a gentleman of diſtinction, and related to moſt of the nobility. He had been employed by the king in ſeveral embaſſies, and was married to a daughter of the duke of Norfolk. The beauty of Anna ſurpaſſed whatever had hitherto appeared at this voluptuous court; and her education, which had been at Paris, tended to ſet off her perſonal charms. Her features were regular, mild, and attractive, her ſtature elegant, though below the middle ſize, while her wit and vivacity exceeded even her other allurements. Henry, who had never learned the art of reſtraining any paſſion that he deſired to gratify, ſaw and loved her; but after ſeveral efforts to induce her to comply with his criminal deſires, he found that without marriage he could have no chance of ſucceeding. This obſtacle, therefore, he hardily undertook to remove; and as his own queen was now become hateful to him, in order to procure a divorce, he alledged that his conſcience [Page 141] rebuked him for having ſo long lived in inceſt with the wife of his brother. In this pretended perplexity, therefore, he appplied to Clement the Seventh, who owed him many obligations, deſiring to diſſolve the bull of the former pope, which had given him permiſſion to marry Catharine; and to declare that it was not in the power, even of the holy ſee, to diſpenſe with a law ſo ſtrictly enjoined in ſcripture. The unfortunate pope, unwilling to grant, yet afraid to refuſe, continued to promiſe, recant, diſpute, and temporize; hoping that the king's paſſion would never hold out during the tedious courſe of an eccleſiaſtical controverſy. In this he was entirely miſtaken. Henry had been long taught to diſpute as well as he, and quickly found, or wreſted many texts of ſcripture to favour his opinions or his paſſions.

During the courſe of a long perplexing negociation, on the iſſue of which Henry's happineſs ſeemed to depend, he had at firſt expected to find in his favourite Wolſey, a warm defender, and a ſteady adherent; but in this he found himſelf miſtaken. Wolſey ſeemed to be in pretty much the ſame dilemma with the pope. On the one hand, he was to pleaſe his maſter the king, from whom he had received a thouſand marks of favour; and on the other hand, he feared to diſoblige the pope, whoſe ſervant he more immediately was, and who beſides had power to puniſh his diſobedience. He, therefore, reſolved to continue neuter in this controverſy; and though of all men the moſt haughty, he gave way on this occaſion to Campegio, the pope's nuncio, in all things, pretending a deference to his ſkill in canon law. Wolſey's ſcheme of temporizing was highly diſpleaſing to the king, but for a while he endeavoured to ſtifle his reſentment, until it could act with more fatal certainty. He for ſome time looked out for a man of equal abilities and leſs art; and it was not [Page 142] long before accident threw into his way one Thomas Cranmer, of greater talents, and probably of more integrity.

Thus finding himſelf provided with a perſon who could ſupply Wolſey's place, he appeared leſs reſerved in his reſentments againſt that prelate. The attorney-general was ordered to prepare a bill of indictment againſt him; and he was ſoon after commanded to reſign the great ſeal. Crimes are eaſily found out againſt a favourite in diſgrace, and the courtiers did not fail to encreaſe the catalogue of his errors. He was ordered to depart from York-place palace; and all his furniture and plate were converted to the king's uſe. The inventory of his goods being taken, they were found to exeed even the moſt extravagant ſurmiſes. Of fine holland alone there were found a thouſand pieces; the walls of his palace were covered with cloth of gold and ſilver; he had a cup-board of plate of maſſy gold; all the reſt of his riches and furniture were in proportion, and probably their greatneſs invited the hand of power. He was ſoon after arreſted by the earl of Northumberland, at the king's command, for high treaſon, and preparations were made for conducting him, from York, where he then reſided, to London, in order to take his trial. He at firſt refuſed to comply with the requiſition, as being a cardinal; but finding the earl bent on performing his commiſſion, he complied, and ſet out, by eaſy journies, for London, to appear as a criminal, where he had acted as a king. In his way he ſtayed a fortnight at the earl of Shrewſbury's; where, one day at dinner, he was taken ill, not without violent ſuſpicions of having poiſoned himſelf. Being brought forward from thence, he with much difficulty reached Leiceſter Abbey; where the monks coming out to meet him, he ſaid, "Father abbot, I am come to lay my bones among you; and immediately ordered his bed to be prepared. As [Page 143] his diſorder encreaſed, an officer being placed near, at once to guard and attend him, he ſpoke to him a little before he expired, to this effect; "I pray you have me heartily recommended unto his royal majeſty, he is a prince of a moſt royal carriage, and hath a princely heart, and rather than he will miſs, or want any part of his will, he will endanger one half of his kingdom. I do aſſure you, I have kneeled before him for three hours together, to perſuade him from his will and appetite, but could not prevail. Had I but ſerved God as diligently as I have ſerved the king, he would not have given me over in my grey hairs. But this is the juſt reward that I muſt receive for my indulgent pains and ſtudy; not regarding my ſervice to God but only to my prince." He died ſoon after, in all the pangs of remorſe, and left a life which he had all along rendered turbid by ambition, and wretched by mean aſſiduities.

The tie that held Henry to the church being thus broken, he reſolved to keep no further meaſures with the pontiff. He therefore privately married Anna Bullen, whom he had created marchioneſs of Pembroke, the duke of Norfolk, uncle to the new queen, her father, mother, and doctor Cranmer being preſent at the ceremony. Soon after finding the queen pregnant, he publicly owned his marriage, and, to colour over his diſobedience to the pope with an appearance of triumph, he paſſed with his beautiful bride through London, with a magnificence greater than had been ever known before. But though Henry had thus ſeparated from the church, yet he had not addicted himſelf to the ſyſtem of any other reformer.

As the mode of religion was not as yet known, and as the minds of thoſe who were of oppoſite ſentiments were extremely exaſperated, it naturally followed that ſeveral muſt fall a ſacrifice in the conteſt between ancient eſtabliſhments and modern reformation.

[Page 144] As the monks had all along ſhewn him the greateſt reſiſtance, he reſolved at once to deprive them of future power to injure him. He accordingly empowered Thomas Cromwell, who was now made ſecretary of ſtate, to ſend, commiſſioners into the ſeveral counties of England to inſpect the monaſteries; and to report, with rigorous exactneſs, the conduct and deportment of ſuch as were reſident there. This employment was readily undertaken by ſome creatures of the court, namely, Layton, London, Price, Gage, Petre, and Belaſis, who are ſaid to have diſcovered monſtrous diſorders in many of the religious houſes. Whole convents of women abandoned to all manner of lewdneſs, friars accomplices in their crimes, pious frauds every where practiſed to encreaſe the devotion and liberality of the people, and cruel and inveterate factions maintained between the members of many of theſe inſtitutions. Theſe accuſations, whether true or falſe, were urged with great clamour againſt theſe communities, and a general horror was excited in the nation againſt them.

[Note: A. D. 1536.]A new viſitation was ſoon after appointed, and freſh crimes were alſo produced; ſo that his ſeverities were conducted with ſuch ſeeming juſtice and ſucceſs, that in leſs than two years he became poſeſſed of all the monaſtic revenues. Theſe, on the whole, amounted to ſix hundred and forty-five, of which twenty-eight had abbots, who enjoyed a ſeat in parliament. Ninety colleges were demoliſhed in ſeveral counties; two thouſand three hundred and ſeventy-four chantries, and free chapels, and an hundred and ten hoſpitals. The whole revenue of theſe eſtabliſhments amounted to one hundred and ſixty one thouſand pounds, which was about a twentieth part of the national income. But as great murmurs were excited by ſome upon this occaſion, Henry took care that all thoſe who could be uſeful to him, or even dangerous in caſes of oppoſition, [Page 145] ſhould be ſharers in the ſpoil. He either made a gift of the revenues of the convents to his principal courtiers, or ſold them at low prices, or exchanged them for other lands on very diſadvantageous terms.

Henry's opinions were at length delivered in a law, which, from its horrid conſequences, was afterwards termed the Bloody Statute, by which it was ordained, that whoever, by word or writing, denied tranſubſtantiation, whoever maintained that the communion in both kinds was neceſſary, whoever aſſerted that it was lawful for prieſts to marry, whoever alledged that vows of chaſtity might be broken, whoever maintained that private maſſes were unprofitable, or that auricular confeſſion was unneceſſary, ſhould be found guilty of hereſy, and burned or hanged as the court ſhould determine. As the people were at that time chiefly compoſed of thoſe who followed the opinions of Luther, and ſuch as ſtill adhered to the pope, this ſtatute, with Henry's former decrees, in ſome meaſure excluded both, and opened a field for perſecution, which ſoon after produced its dreadful harveſts. Bainham and Bilney were burned for their oppoſition to popery, Sir Thomas More and biſhop Fiſher were beheaded for denying the king's ſupremacy.

Theſe ſeverities, however, were preceded by one of a different nature, ariſing neither from religious nor political cauſes, but merely from tyrannical caprice. Anne Bullen, his queen, had been always a favourer of the reformation, and conſequently had many enemies on that account, who only waited ſome fit occaſion to deſtroy her credit with the king; and that occaſion preſented itſelf but too ſoon. The king's paſſion was by this time quite palled by ſatiety; as the only deſire he ever had for her aroſe from that brutal appetite, which enjoyment ſoon deſtroys, he was now, fallen in love, if we may ſo proſtitute the expreſſion, with another, and languiſhed for the poſſeſſion [Page 144] [...] [Page 145] [...] [Page 146] of Jane Seymour, who had for ſome time been maid of honour to the queen.

In the mean time her enemies were not remiſs in raiſing an accuſation againſt her. The duke of Norfolk, from his attachment to the old religion, took care to produce ſeveral witneſſes accuſing her of incontinency with ſome of the meaner ſervants of the court. Four perſons were particularly pointed out as her paramours; Henry Norris, groom of the ſtole, Weſton, and Brereton, gentlemen of the king's bed-chamber, together with mark Smeton, a muſician. Accordingly ſoon after Norris, Weſton, Brereton and Smeton were tried in Weſtminſter-hall, when Smeton was prevailed upon, by the promiſe of a pardon, to confeſs a criminal correſpondence with the queen; but he was never confronted by her he accuſed; and his execution with the reſt, ſhortly after, ſerved to acquit her of the charge. Norris, who had been much in the king's favour, had an offer of his life, if he would confeſs his crime and accuſe his miſtreſs; but he rejected the propoſal with contempt, and died profeſſing her innocence, and his own.

The queen and her brother were tried by a jury of peers; but upon what proof or pretence the crime of inceſt was urged againſt them is unknown; the chief evidence, it is ſaid, amounted to no more, than that Rochford had been ſeen to lean on her bed before ſome company. Part of the charge againſt her was, that ſhe had declared to her attendants, that the king never had her heart; which was conſidered as a ſlander upon the throne, and ſtrained into a breach of a late ſtatute, by which it was declared criminal to throw any ſlander upon the king, queen, or their iſſue. The unhappy queen, though unaſſiſted by counſel, defended herſelf with great judgment, and preſence of mind; and the ſpectators could not forbear declaring her entirely innocent. She anſwered [Page 147] diſtinctly to all the charges brought againſt her: but the king's authority was not to be controuled; ſhe was declared guilty; and her ſentence ran, that ſhe ſhould be burned or beheaded at the king's pleaſure. On the morning of her execution, her ſentence being mitigated into beheading, ſhe ſent for Kingſtone, the keeper of the Tower, to whom, upon entering the priſon, ſhe ſaid, "Mr. Kingſtone, I hear I am not to die till noon, and I am ſorry for it; for I thought to be dead before this time, and free from a life of pain." The keeper attempting to comfort her, by aſſuring her the pain would be very little, ſhe replied, "I have heard the executioner is very expert; and (claſping her neck with her hands, laughing) I have but a little neck." When brought to the ſcaffold, from a conſideration of her child Elizabeth's welfare, ſhe would not enflame the minds of the ſpectators againſt her proſecutors, but contented herſelf with ſaying, "that ſhe was come to die as ſhe was ſentenced by the law." She would accuſe none, nor ſay any thing of the ground upon which ſhe was judged; ſhe prayed heartily for the king, and called him "a moſt merciful, and gentle prince; that he had always been to her a good and gracious ſovereign; and that if any one ſhould think proper to canvaſs her cauſe, ſhe deſired him to judge the beſt." She was beheaded by the executioner of Calais, who was brought over as much more expert than any in England. The very next day after her execution, he married the lady Jane Seymour, his cruel heart being no way ſoftened by the wretched fate of one that had been ſo lately the object of his warmeſt affections. He alſo ordered his parliament to give him a divorce between her ſentence and execution; and thus he endeavoured to baſtardize Elizabeth, the only child he had by her, as he had in the ſame manner formerly baſtardized Mary, his only child by queen Catharine.

[Page 148] In the midſt of theſe commotions, the fires of Smithfield were ſeen to blaze with unuſual fierceneſs. [Note: Oct. 12. 1537.] Thoſe who adhered to the pope, or thoſe who followed the doctrines of Luther, were equally the objects of royal vengeance, and eccleſiaſtical perſecution. From the multiplied alterations which were made in the national ſyſtems of belief, moſtly drawn up by Henry himſelf, few knew what to think, or what to profeſs. They were ready enough, indeed, to follow his doctrines, how inconſiſtent or contradictory ſoever; but as he was continually changing them himſelf, they could hardly purſue ſo faſt as he advanced before them. Thomas Cromwell, raiſed by the king's caprice, from being a blackſmith's ſon, to be a royal favourite, for tyrants ever raiſe their favourites from the loweſt of the people, together with Cranmer, now become archbiſhop of Canterbury, were both ſeen to favour the reformation with all their endeavours. On the other hand, Gardiner biſhop of Wincheſter, together with the duke of Norfolk, were for leading the king back to his original ſuperſtition. In fact, Henry ſubmitted to neither; his pride had long been ſo enflamed by flattery, that he thought himſelf entitled to regulate, by his own ſingle opinion, the religious faith of the whole nation.

Soon after, no leſs than five hundred perſons were impriſoned for contradicting the opinions delivered in the bloody ſtatute; and received protection only from the lenity of Cromwell. Lambert, a ſchool-maſter, and doctor Barnes, who had been inſtrumental in Lambert's execution, felt the ſeverity of the perſecuting ſpirit; and by a bill in parliament, without any trial, were condemned to the flames, diſcuſſing theological queſtions at the very ſtake. With Barnes were executed one Gerrard, and Jerome, for the ſame opinions. Three Catholics alſo, whoſe names were Abel, Fetherſtone, and Powel, were dragged upon [Page 149] the ſame hurdles to execution; and declared, that the moſt grievous part of their puniſhment, was the being coupled with ſuch heretical miſcreants as were united in the ſame calamity.

During theſe horrid tranſactions, Henry was reſolved to take another queen, Jane Seymour having died in child bed; and, after ſome negociation upon the continent, he contracted a marriage with Anne of Cleves, his aim being by her means to fortify his alliances with the princes of Germany. His averſion, however, to the queen ſecretly encreaſed every day; and he at length reſolved to get rid of her and his prime miniſter together. He had a ſtrong cauſe of diſlike to him for his late unpropitious alliance; and a new motive was ſoon added for encreaſing his diſpleaſure. Henry had fixed his affection on Catharine Howard, niece to the duke of Norfolk; and the only method of gratifying this new paſſion was, as in former caſes, diſcarding the preſent queen to make room for a new one. The duke of Norfolk had long been Cromwell's mortal enemy, and eagerly embraced this opportunity to deſtroy a man he conſidered as his rival. He therefore made uſe of all his niece's arts to ruin the favourite; and when his project was ripe for execution, he obtained a commiſſion from the king to arreſt Cromwell for high treaſon. His diſgrace was no ſooner known, than all his friends forſook him, except Cranmer, who wrote ſuch a letter to Henry in his behalf, as no other man in the kingdom would have preſumed to offer. However, he was accuſed in parliament of hereſy and treaſon; and without being ever heard in his own defence, condemned to ſuffer the pains of death, as the king ſhould think proper to direct. When he was brought to the ſcaffold, his regard for his ſon hindered him from expatiating upon his own innocence; he thanked God for bringing him to that death for his tranſgreſſions, [Page 150] confeſſed he had often been ſeduced, but that he now died in the catholic faith.

But the meaſure of his ſeverities was not yet filled up. He had thought himſelf very happy in his new marriage. He was ſo captivated with the queen's accompliſhments, that he gave public thanks for his felicity, and deſired his confeſſor to join with him in the ſame thankſgiving. This joy, however, was of very ſhort duration. While the king was at York, upon an intended conference with the king of Scotland, a man of the name of Laſſels waited upon Cranmer at London; and from the information of this man's ſiſter, who had been ſervant to the dutcheſs dowager of Norfolk, he gave a very ſurprizing account of the queen's incontinence. When the queen was firſt examined relative to her crime, ſhe denied the charge; but afterwards finding that her accomplices were her accuſers, ſhe confeſſed her incontinence before marriage, but denied her having diſhonoured the king's bed ſince their union. Three maids of honour, who were admitted to her ſecrets, ſtill further alledged her guilt; and ſome of them confeſſed having paſſed the night in the ſame bed with her and her lovers. The ſervile parliament, upon being informed of the queen's crime and confeſſion, ſound her quickly guilty, and petitioned the king that ſhe might be puniſhed with death; that the ſame penalty might be inflicted on the lady Rochford, the accomplice in her debaucheries; and that her grandmother, the dutcheſs dowager of Norfolk, together with her father, mother, and nine others, men and women, as having been privy to the queen's irregularities, ſhould participate in her puniſhment. With this petition the king was moſt graciouſly pleaſed to agree; they were condemned to death by an act of attainder, which at the ſame time made it capital for all perſons to conceal their knowledge of the debaucheries [Page 151] of any future queen. It was alſo enacted, that if the king married any woman who had been incontinent, taking her for a true maid, ſhe ſhould be guilty of treaſon, in caſe ſhe did not previouſly reveal her guilt. The people made merry with this abſurd and brutal ſtatute; and it was ſaid, that the king muſt henceforth look out for a widow. After all theſe laws were paſſed, in which the moſt wonderful circumſtance is, that a body of men could ever be induced to give their conſent, the queen was beheaded on Tower Hill, together with the lady Rochford, who found no great degree of compaſſion, as ſhe had herſelf before tampered in blood.

In about a year after the death of the laſt queen, [Note: A. D. 1543.] Henry once more changed his condition, by marrying his ſixth and laſt wife, Catharine Parr, who according to the ridiculous ſuggeſtions of the people, was, in fact, a widow. She was the wife of the late lord Latimer; and was conſidered as a woman of diſcretion and virtue. She was already paſſed the meridian of life, and managed this capricious tyrant's temper with prudence and ſucceſs.

Still, however, the king's ſeverity to his ſubjects continued as fierce as ever. For ſome time he had been incommoded by an ulcer in his leg; the pain of which, added to his corpulence, and other infirmities, encreaſed his natural iraſcibility to ſuch a degree, that ſcarce any, of even his domeſtics, approached him without terror. It was not to be expected, therefore, that any who differed from him in opinion, ſhould, at this time, particularly, hope for pardon.

Though his health was declining apace, yet his implacable cruelties were not the leſs frequent. His reſentments were diffuſed indiſcriminately to all: at one time a proteſtant, and at another a catholic, were the objects of his ſeverity. The duke of Norfolk [Page 152] and his ſon, the earl of Surry, were the laſt that felt the injuſtice of the tyrant's groundleſs ſuſpicions. The duke was a nobleman who had ſerved the king with talents and fidelity; his ſon was a young man of the moſt promiſing hopes, who excelled in every accompliſhment that became a ſcholar, a courtier, and a ſoldier. He excelled in all the military exerciſes which were then in requeſt; he encouraged the fine arts by his practice and example; and it is remarkable, that he was the firſt who brought our language, in his poetical pieces, to any degree of refinement. He celebrated the fair Geraldina in all his ſonnets, and maintained her ſuperior beauty in all places of public contention. Theſe qualifications, however, were no ſafeguard to him againſt Henry's ſuſpicions; he had dropt ſome expreſſions of reſentment againſt the king's miniſters, upon being diſplaced from the government of Bologne; and the whole family was become obnoxious from the late incontinency of Catharine Howard, the queen who was executed. From theſe motives, therefore, private orders were given to arreſt the father and ſon; and accordingly they were arreſted both on the ſame day, and confined to the Tower. Surry being a commoner, his trial was the more expeditious; and as to proofs, there were many informers baſe enough to betray the intimacies of private confidence, and all the connections of blood. The dutcheſs dowager of Richmond, Surry's own ſiſter, enliſted herſelf among the number of his accuſers; and Sir Richard Southwell alſo, his moſt intimate friend, charged him with infidelity to the king. It would ſeem, that at this dreary period, there was neither faith nor honour to be found in all the nation; Surry denied the charge, and challenged his accuſer to ſingle combat. This favour was refuſed him; and it was alledged that he had quartered the arms of Edward the Confeſſor [Page 153] on his eſcutcheon, which alone was ſufficient to convict him of aſpiring to the crown. To this he could make no reply; and indeed any anſwer would have been needleſs; for neither parliaments nor juries, during this reign, ſeem to be guided by any other proofs, but the will of the crown. This young nobleman was, therefore, condemned for high treaſon, notwithſtanding his eloquent and ſpirited defence; and the ſentence was ſoon after executed upon him on Tower-Hill. In the mean time the duke endeavoured to mollify the king by letters and ſubmiſſions; but the monſter's hard heart was rarely ſubject to tender impreſſions. [Note: A. D. 1546.] The parliament meeting on the fourteenth day of January, a bill of attainder was found againſt the duke of Norfolk; as it was thought he could not ſo eaſily have been convicted on a fair hearing by his peers. The death-warrant was made out, and immediately ſent to the lieutenant of the Tower. The duke prepared for death, the following morning was to be his laſt; but an event of greater conſequence to the kingdom intervened, and prevented his execution.

The king had been for ſome time approaching faſt towards his end; and for ſeveral days all thoſe about his perſon plainly ſaw that his ſpeedy death was inevitable. The diſorder in his leg was now grown extremely painful; and this added to his monſtrous corpulency, which rendered him unable to ſtir, made him more furious than a chained lion. He had been ever ſtern and ſevere; he was now outrageous. In this ſtate he had continued for near four years before his death, the terror of all, and the tormentor of himſelf; his courtiers having no inclination to make an enemy of him, as they were more ardently employed in conſpiring the death of each other. In this manner, therefore, he was ſuffered [Page 154] to ſtruggle, without any of his domeſtics having the courage to warn him of his approaching end, as more than once during this reign, perſons had been put to death for foretelling the death of the king. At laſt, Sir Anthony Denny had the courage to diſcloſe to him this dreadful ſecret; and, contrary to his uſual cuſtom, he received the tidings with an expreſſion of reſignation. His anguiſh and remoſe was at this time greater than can be expreſſed; he deſired that Cranmer might be ſent for; but before that prelate could arrive, he was ſpeechleſs. Cranmer deſired him to give ſome ſign of his dying in the faith of Chriſt, he ſqueezed his hand, and immediately expired, [Note: A. D. 1547.] after a reign of thirty-ſeven years, and nine months, in the fifty-ſixth year of his age. Some kings have been tyrants from contradiction and revolt; ſome from being miſled by favourites, and ſome from a ſpirit of party. But Henry was cruel from a depraved diſpoſition alone; cruel in government, cruel in religion, and cruel in his family. Our divines have taken ſome pains to vindicate the character of this brutal prince, as if his conduct, and our reformation had any connexion with each other. There is nothing ſo abſurd as to defend the one by the other; the moſt noble deſigns are brought about by the moſt vicious inſtruments; for we ſee even that cruelty and injuſtice were thought neceſſary to be employed in our holy redemption.


[Page 155]

HENRY the eighth was ſucceeded on the throne by his only ſon Edward the ſixth, now in the ninth year of his age. The late king in his will, which he expected would be implicitly obeyed, ſixed the majority of the prince at the completion of his eighteenth year; and in the mean time appointed ſixteen executors of his will, to whom, during the minority, he entruſted the government of the king and kingdom, the duke of Somerſet as protector being placed at their head.

The protector, in his ſchemes for advancing the reformation, had always recourſe to the counſels of Cranmer, who, being a man of moderation and prudence, was averſe to violent changes, and determined to bring over the people by inſenſible innovations to his own peculiar ſyſtem.

A committee of biſhops and divines had been appointed by the council to frame a liturgy for the ſervice of the church; and this work was executed with great moderation, preciſion, and accuracy. A law was alſo enacted, permitting prieſts to marry; the ceremony of auricular confeſſion, though not aboliſhed, was left at the diſcretion of the people, who were not diſpleaſed at being freed from the ſpiritual tyranny of their inſtructors; the doctrine of the real preſence was the laſt tenet of popery that was wholly abandoned by the people, as both the clergy and laity were loth to renounce ſo miraculous a benefit as it was aſſerted to be. However, at laſt, not only this but all the principal opinions and practices of the Catholic religion, contrary to what the ſcripture authorizes, were aboliſhed; and the reformation, ſuch as we [Page 156] have it, [Note: A. D. 1549.] was almoſt entirely completed in England. With all theſe innovations the people and clergy in general aquieſced; and Gardiner and Bonner were the only perſons whoſe oppoſition was thought of any weight; they were, therefore, ſent to the Tower, and threatened with the king's further diſpleaſure in caſe of diſobedience.

For all theſe the protector gained great applauſe and popularity; but he was raiſed to an enviable degree of eminence, and his enemies were numerous in proportion to his exaltation. Of all the miniſters, at that time in the council, Dudley, earl of Warwick, was the moſt artful, ambitious, and unprincipled. Reſolved at any rate to poſſeſs the principal place under the king, he cared not what means were to be uſed in acquiring it. However, unwilling to throw off the maſk, he covered the moſt exorbitant views under the faireſt appearances. Having aſſociated himſelf with the earl of Southampton, he formed a ſtrong party in the council, who were determined to free themſelves from the controul the protector aſſumed over them. That nobleman was, in fact, now grown obnoxious to a very prevailing party in the kingdom. He was hated by the nobles for his ſuperior magnificence and power; he was hated by the catholic party for his regard to the reformation; he was diſliked by many for his ſeverity to his brother: beſides, the great eſtate he had raiſed at the expence of the church and the crown, rendered him obnoxious to all. The palace which he was then building in the Strand, ſerved alſo by its magnificence, and ſtill more by the unjuſt methods that were taken to raiſe it, to expoſe him to the cenſures of the public. The pariſh church of St. Mary, with three biſhop's houſes, were pulled down to furniſh ground and materials for the ſtructure.

[Page 157] He was ſoon afterwards ſent to the Tower, and the chief article of which he was accuſed, was his uſurpation of the government, and the taking all power into his own hands; but his great riches was the real cauſe. Several others of a ſlighter tint were added to invigorate this accuſation, but none of them could be ſaid to amount to high treaſon. In conſequence of theſe, a bill of attainder was preferred againſt him in the houſe of lords; but Somerſet contrived, for this time, to elude the rigour of their ſentence, by having previouſly, on his knees, confeſſed the charge before the members of the council. In conſequence of this confeſſion, he was deprived of all his offices and goods, together with a great part of his landed eſtate, which was forfeited to the uſe of the crown. This fine on his eſtate was ſoon after remitted by the king, and Somerſet once more, contrary to the expectation of all, recovered his liberty. He was even re-admitted into the council; happy for him, if his ambition had not revived with his ſecurity.

In fact, he could not help now and then burſting out into invectives againſt the king and government, which were quickly carried to his ſecret enemy, the earl of Warwick, who was now become the duke of Northumberland. As he was ſurrounded with that nobleman's creatures, they took care to reveal all the deſigns which they had themſelves firſt ſuggeſted; and Somerſet ſoon found the fatal effects of his rival's reſentment. He was, by Northumberland's command, arreſted with many more accuſed of being his partizans: and he was, with his wife the ducheſs, alſo thown into priſon. He was now accuſed of having formed a deſign to raiſe an inſurrection in the North; of attacking the train-bands on a muſter day; of plotting to ſecure the Tower, and to excite a rebellion in London. Theſe charges he ſtrenuouſly denied; but he confeſſed to one of as heinous a nature, which was, that he had laid a project for murdering Northumberland, [Page 158] Northampton, and Pembroke, at a banquet, which was to be given them by lord Paget. He was ſoon after brought to a trial before the marquiſs of Wincheſter, who ſat as high-ſteward on the occaſion, with twenty-ſeven peers more, including Northumberland, Pembroke, and Northampton, who were at once his judges and accuſers; and being found guilty, brought to the ſcaffold on Tower-hill, where he appeared, without the leaſt emotion, in the midſt of a vaſt concourſe of the populace, by whom he was beloved. He ſpoke to them with great compoſure, proteſting that he had always promoted the ſervice of his king, and the intereſts of true religion, to the beſt of his power. The people atteſted their belief of what he ſaid, by crying out, "It is moſt true." An univerſal tumult was beginning to take place; but Somerſet deſiring them to be ſtill, and not to interrupt his laſt meditations, but to join with him in prayer, he laid down his head, and ſubmitted to the ſtroke of the executioner.

In the mean time Northumberland had long aimed at the firſt authority; and the infirm ſtate of the king's health opened the proſpects to his ambition. He repreſented to that young prince that his ſiſters Mary and Elizabeth, who were appointed by Henry's will to ſucceed in failure of direct heirs to the crown, had been both declared illegitimate by parliament; that the queen of Scots, his aunt, ſtood excluded by the king's will, and being an alien alſo, loſt all right of ſucceeding; that as the three princeſſes were thus legally excluded, the ſucceſſion naturally devolved to the marchioneſs of Dorſet, whoſe next heir was the lady Jane Grey, a lady every way accompliſhed for government, as well by the charms of her perſon, as the virtues and acquirements of her mind. The king, who had long ſubmitted to all the politic views of this deſigning miniſter, agreed to have the ſucceſſion ſubmitted to council, where Northumberland had [Page 159] influence ſoon after to procure an eaſy concurrence.

In the mean time, as the king's health declined, the miniſter laboured to ſtrengthen his own intereſts and connexions. His firſt aim was to ſecure the intereſts of the marquiſs of Dorſet, father to lady Jane Gray, by procuring for him the title of duke of Suffolk, which was lately become extinct. Having thus obliged this nobleman, he then propoſed a match between his fourth ſon, lord Guilford Dudley, and the lady Jane Gray, whoſe intereſts he had been at ſo much pains to advance. [Note: A. D. 1553.] Still bent on ſpreading his intereſts as widely as poſſible, he married his own daughter to lord Haſtings; and had theſe marriages ſolemnized with all poſſible pomp and feſtivity. Mean while, Edward continued to languiſh; and ſeveral fatal ſymptoms of a conſumption began to appear. It was hoped, however, that his youth and temperance might get the better of his diſorders; and from their love the people were unwilling to think him in danger. It had been remarked indeed by ſome, that his health was viſibly ſeen to decline, from the time that the Dudleys were brought about his perſon. The character of Northumberland might have juſtly given ſome colour to ſuſpicion; and his removing all, except his own emiſſaries, from about the king, ſtill farther encreaſed the diſtruſts of the people. Northumberland, however, was no way uneaſy at their murmurs; he was aſſiduous in his attendance upon the king, and proſeſſed the moſt anxious concern for his ſafety; but ſtill drove forward his darling ſcheme of transferring the ſucceſſion to his own daughter-in-law.

The young king was put into the hands of an ignorant woman, who very confidently undertook his cure. After the uſe of her medicines, all the bad ſymptoms encreaſed to a moſt violent degree; he [Page 160] felt a difficulty of ſpeech and breathing; his pulſe failed, his legs ſwelled, his colour became livid, and many other ſymptoms appeared of his approaching end. [Note: July 6, 1553.] He expired at Greenwich, in the ſixteenth year of his age, and the ſeventh of his reign, greatly regretted by all, as his early virtues gave a proſpect of the continuance of an happy reign.

1.25. CHAP. XXV. MARY.

UPON the death of Edward two candidates put in their pretenſions to the crown. Mary, Henry's daughter by Catharine of Arragon, relying on the juſtice of her cauſe, and lady Jane Gray, being nominated in the late young king's will, and upon the ſupport of the duke of Northumberland, her father-in-law. Mary was ſtrongly bigotted to the popiſh ſuperſtitions, having been bred up among church-men, and having been even taught to prefer martyrdom to a denial of belief. As ſhe had lived in continual reſtraint, ſhe was reſerved and gloomy: ſhe had, even during the life of her father, the reſolution to maintain her ſentiments, and refuſed to comply with his new inſtitutions. Her zeal had rendered her furious; and ſhe was not only blindly attached to her religious opinions, but even to the popiſh clergy who maintained them. On the other hand, Jane Gray was ſtrongly attached to the reformers; and though yet but ſixteen, her judgment had attained to ſuch a degree of maturity, as few have been found to poſſeſs. All hiſtorians agree that the ſolidity of her underſtanding, improved by continual application, rendered her the wonder of her age. Jane, who was in a great meaſure ignorant of all the [Page 161] tranſactions in her favour, was ſtruck with equal grief and ſurprize when ſhe received intelligence of them. She ſhed a flood of tears, appeared inconſolable, and it was not without the utmoſt difficulty that ſhe yielded to the entreaties of Northumberland, and the duke her father. Orders were given alſo for proclaiming her throughout the kingdom; but theſe were but very remiſsly obeyed. When ſhe was proclaimed in the city, the people heard her acceſſion made public without any ſigns of pleaſure, no applauſe enſued, and ſome even expreſſed their ſcorn and contempt.

In the mean time Mary, who had retired, upon the news of the king's death, to Kenning Hall in Norfolk, ſent circular letters to all the great towns and nobility in the kingdom, reminding them of her right, and commanding them to proclaim her without delay.

Her claims ſoon became irreſiſtible; in a little time ſhe found herſelf at the head of forty thouſand men; while the few who attended Northumberland, continued irreſolute; and he even feared to lead them to the encounter.

Lady Jane, thus finding that all was loſt, reſigned her royalty, which ſhe had held but ten days, with marks of real ſatisfaction, and retired with her mother to their own habitation. Northumberland alſo, who found his affairs deſperate, and that it was impoſſible to ſtem the tide of popular oppoſition, attempted to quit the kingdom; but he was prevented by the band of penſioner guards, who informed him that he muſt ſtay to juſtify their conduct in being led out againſt their lawful ſovereign. Thus circumvented on all ſides, he delivered himſelf up to Mary, and was ſoon after executed in a ſummary way. Sentence was alſo pronounced againſt lady Jane, and lord Guilford, but without any intention for the preſent of putting it in execution.

[Page 162] Mary now entered London, and with very little effuſion of blood, ſaw herſelf joyfully proclaimed, and peaceably ſettled on the throne. This was a flattering proſpect, but ſoon this pleaſing phantom was diſſolved. Mary was moroſe, and a bigot; ſhe was reſolved to give back their former power to the clergy; and thus once more to involve the kingdom in all the horrors it had juſt emerged from. Gardiner, Bonner, Tonſtal, Day, Heath and Veſey, who had been confined, or ſuffered loſſes for their catholic opinions, during the late reigns, were taken from priſon, reinſtated in their ſees, and their former ſentences repealed.

A parliament, which the queen called ſoon after, ſeemed willing to concur in all her meaſures; they at one blow repealed all the ſtatutes with regard to religion, which had paſſed during the reign of her predeceſſor: ſo that the national religion was again placed on the ſame footing on which it ſtood at the death of Henry the Eighth.

While religion was thus returning to its primitive abuſes, the queen's miniſters, who were willing to ſtrengthen her power by a catholic alliance, had been for ſome time looking out for a proper conſort: they pitched upon Philip, prince of Spain, and ſon of the celebrated Charles the Fifth. In order to avoid as much as poſſible, any diſagreeable remonſtrances from the people, the articles of marriage were drawn as favourably as poſſible to the intereſts and honour of England; and this in ſome meaſure ſtilled the clamours that had already been begun againſt it.

The diſcontents of the people, roſe to ſuch a pitch that an inſurrection, headed by Sir Thomas Wyat, ſucceeded; but Wyat being made priſoner, was condemned and executed, with ſome of his adherents.

But what excited the compaſſion of the people moſt of all, was the execution of lady Jane Gray, and her huſband lord Guilford Dudley, who were involved [Page 163] in the puniſhment though not in the guilt, of this inſurrection. Two days after Wyat was apprehended, lady Jane and her huſband were ordered to prepare for death. Lady Jane, who had long before ſeen the threatened blow, was no way ſurprized at the meſſage, but bore it with heroic reſolution; and being informed that ſhe had three days to prepare, ſhe ſeemed diſpleaſed at ſo long a delay. On the day of her execution her huſband deſired permiſſion to ſee her; but this ſhe refuſed, as ſhe knew the parting would be too tender for her fortitude to withſtand. The place at firſt deſigned for their execution was without the Tower; but their youth, beauty, and innocence being likely to raiſe an inſurrection among the people, orders were given that they ſhould be executed within the verge of the Tower. Lord Dudley was the firſt that ſuffered; and while the lady Jane was conducting to the place of execution, the officers of the Tower met her, bearing along the headleſs body of her huſband ſtreaming with blood, in order to be interred in the Tower-chapel. She looked on the corpſe for ſome time without any emotion; and then, with a ſigh, deſired them to proceed. On the ſcaffold ſhe made a ſpeech, in which ſhe alledged that her offence was not the having laid her hand upon the crown, but the not rejecting it with ſufficient conſtancy; that ſhe had leſs erred through ambition than filial obedience; that ſhe willingly accepted death as the only atonement ſhe could make to the injured ſtate; and was ready by her puniſhment to ſhew, that innocence is no plea in excuſe for deeds that tend to injure the community. After ſpeaking to this effect, ſhe cauſed herſelf to be diſrobed by her women, and with a ſteady ſerene countenance ſubmitted to the executioner.

At the head of thoſe who drove theſe violent meaſures forward were Gardiner, biſhop of Wincheſter, and cardinal Pole, who was now returned from [Page 164] Italy. Pole, who was nearly allied by birth to the royal family, had always conſcientiouſly adhered to the catholic religion, and had incurred Henry's diſpleaſure, not only by refuſing to aſſent to his meaſures, but by writing againſt him. It was for this adherence that he was cheriſhed by the pope, and now ſent over to England as legate from the holy ſee. Gardiner was a man of a very different character; his chief aim was to pleaſe the reigning prince, and he had ſhewn already many inſtances of his prudent conformity.

A perſecution therefore began by the martyrdom of Hooper, biſhop of Glouceſter, and Rogers, prebendary of St. Paul's. They were examined by commiſſioners appointed by the queen, with the chancellor at the head of them.

Sanders and Taylor, two other clergymen, whoſe zeal had been diſtinguiſhed in carrying on the reformation, were the next that ſuffered. Bonner, biſhop of London, bloated at once with rage and luxury, let looſe his vengeance without reſtraint; and ſeemed to take a pleaſure in the pains of the unhappy ſufferers; while the queen, by her letters, exhorted him to purſue the pious work without pity or interruption. Soon after, in obedience to her commands, Ridley, biſhop of London; and the venerable Latimer, biſhop of Worceſter, were condemned together. Ridley had been one of the ableſt champions for the reformation; his piety, learning, and ſolidity of judgment, were admired by his friends, and dreaded by his enemies. The night before his execution, he invited the mayor of Oxford and his wife to ſee him; and when he beheld them melted into tears, he himſelf appeared quite unmoved, inwardly ſupported and comforted in that hour of agony. When he was brought to the ſtake to be burnt, he found his old friend Latimer there before him. Of all the prelates of that age, Latimer was the moſt remarkable [Page 165] for his unaffected piety, and the ſimplicity of his manners. He had never learned to flatter in courts; and his open rebuke was dreaded by all the great, who at that time too much deſerved it. His ſermons, which remain to this day, ſhew that he had much learning, and much wit; and there is an air of ſincerity running through them, not to be found elſewhere. When Ridley began to comfort his ancient friend, Latimer, on his part, was as ready to return the kind office. "Be of good cheer, brother, cried he, we ſhall this day kindle ſuch a torch in England, as, I truſt in God, ſhall never be extinguiſhed." A furious bigot aſcended to preach to them and the people, while the fire was preparing; and Ridley gave a moſt ſerious attention to his diſcourſe. No way diſtracted by the preparations about him, he heard him to the laſt; and then told him, that he was ready to anſwer all that he had preached upon, if he were permitted a ſhort indulgence; but this was refuſed him. At length fire was ſet to the pile: Latimer was ſoon out of pain, but Ridley continued to ſuffer much longer, his legs being conſumed before the fire reached his vitals.

Cranmer's death followed ſoon after, and ſtruck the whole nation with horror. His love of life had formerly prevailed. In an unguarded moment he was induced to ſign a paper condemning the reformation; and now his enemies, as we are told of the devil, after having rendered him completely wretched, reſolved to deſtroy him. Being led to the ſtake, and the fire beginning to be kindled round him, he ſtretched forth his right-hand, and held it in the flames till it was conſumed, while he frequently cried out, in the midſt of his ſufferings, "That unworthy hand;" at the ſame time exhibiting no appearance of pain or diſorder. When the fire attacked his body he ſeemed to be quite inſenſible of his tortures; his mind was occupied wholly upon the hopes of a future reward. [Page 166] After his body was deſtroyed, his heart was ſound entire; an emblem of the conſtancy with which he ſuffered.

It was computed, that during this perſecution, two hundred and ſeventy-ſeven perſons ſuffered by fire, beſides thoſe puniſhed by impriſonment, fines, and conſiſcations. Among thoſe who ſuffered by fire were five biſhops, twenty one clergymen, eight lay gentlemen, eighty-four tradeſmen, one hundred huſbandmen, fifty-five women, and four children. All this was terrible; and yet the temporal affairs of the kingdom did not ſeem to be more ſucceſsful.

[Note: A. D. 1557.]Calais, that had now for above two hundred years been in the poſſeſſion of the Engliſh, was attacked, and by a ſudden and unexpected aſſault being blocked up on every ſide, was obliged to capitulate; ſo that in leſs than eight days, the duke of Guiſe recovered a city that had been in poſſeſſion of the Engliſh ſince the time of Edward the Third, and which he had ſpent eleven months in beſieging. This loſs filled the whole kingdom with murmurs, and the queen with deſpair; ſhe was heard to ſay, that when dead, the name of Calais would be found engraven on her heart.

Theſe complicated evils, a murmuring people, an encreaſing hereſy, a diſdainful huſband, and an unſucceſsful war, made dreadful depredations on Mary's conſtitution. She began to appear conſumptive, and this rendered her mind ſtill more moroſe and bigotted. The people now therefore began to turn their thoughts to her ſucceſſor; and the princeſs Elizabeth came into a greater degree of conſideration than before.

Mary had been long in a very declining ſtate of health; and having miſtaken her dropſy for a pregnancy, ſhe made uſe of an improper regimen, which had encreaſed the diſorder. Every reflection now tormented her. The conſciouſneſs of being hated by her ſubjects, and the proſpect of Elizabeth's ſucceſſion, [Page 167] whom ſhe hated; all theſe preyed upon her mind, and threw her into a lingering fever, of which ſhe died, after a ſhort and unfortunate reign of five years, four months, and eleven days, in the forty-third year of her age.


NOTHING could exceed the joy that was diffuſed among the people upon the acceſſion of Elizabeth, [Note: A. D. 1558.] who now came to the throne without any oppoſition.

This favourite of the people, from the begining, reſolved upon reforming the church; even while ſhe was held in the conſtraints of a priſon; and now upon coming to the crown, ſhe immediately ſet about it. A parliament ſoon after completed what the prerogative had begun; act after act was paſſed in favour of the reformation; and in a ſingle ſeſſion the form of religion was eſtabliſhed as we at preſent have the happineſs to enjoy it.

A ſtate of permanent felicity is not to be expected here; and Mary Stuart, commonly called Mary queen of Scots, was the firſt perſon that excited the fears or the reſentment of Elizabeth. Henry the ſeventh had married his eldeſt daughter, Margaret, to James, king of Scotland, who dying, left no iſſue that came to maturity except Mary, afterwards ſurnamed queen of Scots. At a very early age, this princeſs being poſſeſſed of every accompliſhment of perſon and mind, was married to Francis, the dauphin of France, who dying left her a widow at the age of nineteen. Upon the death of Francis, Mary, the widow, ſtill ſeemed diſpoſed to keep up the title; but finding herſelf expoſed [Page 168] to the perſecutions of the dowager queen, who now began to take the lead in France, ſhe returned home to Scotland, where ſhe found the people ſtrongly impreſſed with the gloomy enthuſiaſm of the times. A difference in religion between the ſovereign and the people is ever productive of bad effects; ſince it is apt to produce contempt on the one ſide, and jealouſy on the other. Mary could not avoid regarding the ſour manners of the reformed clergy, who now bore ſway among the Scotch, without a mixture of ridicule and hatred; while they, on the other hand, could not look tamely on the gaieties and levities which ſhe introduced among them, without abhorrence and reſentment. The jealouſy thus excited, began every day to grow ſtronger; the clergy waited only for ſome indiſcretion in the queen to fly out into open oppoſition; and her indiſcretion but too ſoon gave them ſufficient opportunity.

Mary, upon her return, had married the earl of Darnley; but having been dazzled by the pleaſing exterior of her new lover, ſhe had entirely forgot to look to the accompliſhments of his mind. Darnley was but a weak and ignorant man; violent yet variable in his enterprizes; inſolent, yet credulous, and eaſily governed by flatterers. She ſoon therefore began to convert her admiration into diſguſt; and Darnley, enraged at her encreaſing coldneſs, pointed his vengeance againſt every perſon he ſuppoſed the cauſe of this change in her ſentiments and behaviour.

There was then in the court one David Rizzio, the ſon of a muſician at Turin, himſelf a muſician, whom Mary took into her confidence. She conſulted him on all occaſions; no favours could be obtained but by his interceſſion, and all ſuitors were firſt obliged to gain Rizzio to their intereſts, by preſents, or by flattery. It was eaſy to perſuade a man of Darnley's jealous uxorious temper, that Rizzio was the perſon who had eſtranged the queen's affections [Page 169] from him; and a ſurmiſe once conceived became to him a certainty. He ſoon therefore conſulted with ſome lords of his party, who accompanying him into the queens' apartment, where Rizzio then was, they dragged him into the anti-chamber, where he was diſpatched with fifty-ſix wounds; the unhappy princeſs continuing her lamentations, while they were perpetrating their horrid intent. Being informed however of his fate, Mary at once dried her tears, and ſaid ſhe would weep no more for ſhe would now think of revenge.

She therefore concealed her reſentment, and ſo far impoſed upon Darnley, her huſband, that he put himſelf under her protection, and ſoon after attended her to Edinburgh, where he was told the place would be favourable to his declining health. Mary lived in the palace of Holyrood-houſe; but as the ſituation of that place was low, and the concourſe of perſons about the court neceſſarily attended with noiſe, which might diſturb him in his preſent infirm ſtate, ſhe fitted up an apartment for him in a ſolitary houſe at ſome diſtance, called the Kirk of Field. Mary there gave him marks of kindneſs and attachment; ſhe converſed cordially with him, and ſhe lay ſome nights in a room under him. It was on the ninth of February that ſhe told him ſhe would paſs that night in the palace, becauſe the marriage of one of her ſervants was to be there celebrated in her preſence. But dreadful conſequences enfued. About two o'clock in the morning the whole city was much alarmed at hearing a great noiſe; the houſe in which Darnley lay was blown up with gunpowder. His dead body was found at ſome diſtance in a neighbouring field, but without any marks of violence or contuſion. No doubt could be entertained but that Darnley was murdered; and the general ſuſpicion fell upon Bothwell, a perſon lately taken into Mary's favour, as the perpetrator.

One crime led on to another; Bothwell, though accuſed of being ſtained with the huſband's blood, [Page 170] though univerſally odious to the people, had the confidence, while Mary was on her way to Stirling, on a viſit to her ſon, to ſeize her at the head of a body of eight hundred horſe, and to carry her to Dunbar, where he forced her to yield to his purpoſes. It was then thought by the people that the meaſure of his crimes was complete; and that he who was ſuppoſed to kill the queen's huſband, and to have offered violence to her perſon, could expect no mercy; but they were aſtoniſhed upon finding, inſtead of diſgrace, that Bothwell was taken into more than former favour; and, to crown all, that he was married to Mary, having divorced his own wife to procure this union.

This was a fatal alliance to Mary; and the people were now wound up by the complication of her guilt, to pay very little deference to her authority. An aſſociation was formed that took Mary priſoner, and ſent her into confinement to the caſtle of Lochlevin, ſituated in a lake of that name, where ſhe ſuffered all the ſeverities of an unkind keeper, and an upbraiding conſcience, with a feeling heart.

The calamities of the great, even though juſtly deſerved, ſeldom fail of creating pity, and procuring friends. Mary, by her charms and promiſes, had engaged a young gentleman, whoſe name was George Douglas, to aſſiſt her in eſcaping from the place where ſhe was confined: and this he effected, by conveying her in diſguiſe in a ſmall boat rowed by himſelf, a-ſhore. It was now that the news of her enlargement being ſpread abroad, all the loyalty of the people ſeemed to revive once more, and in a few days ſhe ſaw herſelf at the head of ſix thouſand men.

A battle was fought at Langſide, near Glaſgow, which was entirely deciſive againſt her, and now being totally ruined, ſhe fled ſouthwards from the field of [Page 171] battle with great precipitation; [Note: A. D. 1568.] and came with a few attendants to the borders of England, where ſhe hoped for protection from Elizabeth, who inſtead of protecting, ordered her to be put in confinement, yet treated her with all proper marks of reſpect.

She was accordingly ſent to Tutbury caſtle, in the county of Stafford, where ſhe was put under the cuſtody of the earl of Shrewſbury; where ſhe had hopes given her of one day coming into favour, and that unleſs her own obſtinacy prevented, an accommodation might at laſt take place.

The duke of Norfolk was the only peer who enjoyed that higheſt title of nobility in England; and the qualities of his mind correſponded to his high ſtation. Beneficent, affable, and generous, he had acquired the affections of the people; and yet from his moderation, he had never alarmed the jealouſy of the ſovereign. He was at this time a widower, and being of a ſuitable age to eſpouſe the queen of Scots, her own attractions, as well as his intereſts, made him deſirous of the match. Elizabeth however dreaded ſuch an union, and the duke was ſoon after made priſoner and ſent to the Tower. Upon his releaſement from thence new projects were ſet on foot by the enemies of the queen and the reformed religion, ſecretly fomented by Rodolphi, an inſtrument of the court of Rome, and the biſhop of Roſs, Mary's miniſter in England. It was concerted by them, that Norfolk ſhould renew his deſigns upon Mary, and raiſe her to the throne, to which it is probablebe was prompted by paſſion as well as intereſt; and this nobleman entering into their ſchemes, he from being at firſt only ambitious, now became criminal. His ſervants were brought to make a full confeſſion of their maſter's guilt; and the biſhop of Roſs ſoon after, finding the whole diſcovered, did not ſcruple to confirm their teſtimony. The duke [Page 172] was inſtantly committed to the Tower, and ordered to prepare for his trial. A jury of twenty-five peers unanimouſly paſſed ſentence upon him; and the queen four months after, reluctantly ſigned the warrant for his execution. He died with great calmneſs and conſtancy; and though he cleared himſelf of any diſloyal intentions againſt the queen's authority, he acknowledged the juſtice of the ſentence by which he ſuffered.

Theſe conſpiracies ſerved to prepare the way for Mary's ruin, whoſe greateſt misfortunes proceeded rather from the violence of her friends, than the malignity of her enemies. Elizabeth's miniſters had long been waiting for ſome ſignal inſtance of the captive queen's enmity, which they could eaſily convert into treaſon; and this was not long wanting. About this time one John Ballard, [Note: A. D. 1586.] a popiſh prieſt, who had been bred in the Engliſh ſeminary at Rheims, reſolved to compaſs the death of a queen, whom he conſidered as the enemy of his religion; and with that gloomy reſolution came over into England in the diſguiſe of a ſoldier, with the aſſumed name of captain Forteſcue. He bent his endeavours to bring about at once the project of an aſſaſſination, an inſurrection, and an invaſion. The firſt perſon he addreſſed himſelf to was Anthony Babington, of Dethick, in the county of Derby, a young gentleman of good family, and poſſeſſed of a very plentiful fortune. This perſon had been long remarkable for his zeal in the catholic cauſe, and in particular for his attachment to the captive queen. He therefore came readily into the plot, and procured the concurrence and aſſiſtance of ſome other aſſociates in this dangerous undertaking. The next ſtep was to apprize Mary of the conſpiracy formed in her favour, and this they effected by onveying their letters to her by means of a brewer that ſupplied the family with ale, through a chink in the wall of her apartment. [Page 173] In theſe Babington informed her of a deſign laid for a foreign invaſion, the plan of an inſurrection at home, the ſcheme for her delivery, and the conſpiracy for aſſaſſinating the uſurper by ſix noble gentlemen, as he termed them, all of them his private friends, who, from the zeal which they bore the catholic cauſe, and her majeſty's ſervice, would undertake the tragical execution. To theſe Mary replied, that ſhe approved highly of the deſign; that the gentlemen might expect all the rewards which it ſhould be ever in her power to confer; and that the death of Elizabeth was a neceſſary circumſtance, previous to any further attempts, either for her delivery, or the intended inſurrection.

The plot being thus ripe for execution, and the evidence againſt the conſpirators inconteſtible, Walſingham, who was privately informed of all, reſolved to ſuſpend their puniſhment no longer. A warrant was accordingly iſſued out for the apprehending of Babington, and the reſt of the conſpirators, who covered themſelves with various diſguiſes, and endeavoured to keep themſelves concealed. But they were ſoon diſcovered, thrown into priſon, and brought to trial. In their examination they contradicted each other, and the leaders were obliged to make a full confeſſion of the truth. Fourteen were condemned and executed, ſeven of whom died acknowledging their crime.

The execution of theſe wretched men only prepared the way for one of ſtill greater importance, in which a captive queen was to ſubmit to the unjuſt deciſions of thoſe who had no right, but that of power, to condemn her.

Accordingly a commiſſion was iſſued to forty peers, with five judges, or the major part of them, to try and paſs ſentence upon Mary, daughter and heir of James the Fifth, king of Scotland, commonly called queen of Scots, and dowager of France.

[Page 174] [Note: Nov. 11, 1586.]Thirty-ſix of theſe commiſſioners arriving at the caſtle of Fotheringay, preſented her with a letter from Elizabeth, commanding her to ſubmit to a trial for her late conſpiracy. The principal charge againſt her was urged by ſerjeant Gaudy, who accuſed her with knowing, approving, and conſenting to Babington's conſpiracy. This charge was ſupported by Babington's confeſſion, and by the copies which were taken of their correſpondence, in which her approbation of the queen's murder was expreſsly declared.

Whatever might have been this queen's offences, it is certain that her treatment was very ſevere. She deſired to be put in poſſeſſion of ſuch notes as ſhe had taken preparative to her trial; but this was refuſed her. She demanded a copy of her proteſt; but her requeſt was not complied with; ſhe even required an advocate to plead her cauſe againſt ſo many learned lawyers, as had undertaken to urge her accuſations, but all her demands were rejected; and, after an adjournment of ſome days, ſentence of death was pronounced againſt her in the Star-chamber in Weſtminſter, all the commiſſioners, except two, being preſent.

Whether Elizabeth was really ſincere in her apparent reluctance to execute Mary, is a queſtion which, though uſually given againſt her, I will not take upon me to determine. Certainly there were great arts uſed by her courtiers to determine her to the ſide of ſeverity; as they had every thing to fear from the reſentment of Mary, in caſe ſhe ever ſucceeded to the throne. Accordingly, the kingdom was now filled with rumours of plots, treaſons, and inſurrections; and the queen was continually kept in alarm by ſictitious dangers. She, therefore, appeared to be in great terror and perplexity; ſhe was obſerved to ſit much alone, and to mutter to herſelf half ſentences, importing the difficulty and diſtreſs to which ſhe was [Page 175] reduced. In this ſituation, ſhe one day called her ſecretary, Daviſon, whom ſhe ordered to draw out ſecretly the warrant for Mary's execution, informing him, that ſhe intended to keep it by her in caſe any attempt ſhould be made for the delivery of that princeſs. She ſigned the warrant, and then commanded it to be carried to the chancellor to have the ſeal affixed to it. Next morning, however, ſhe ſent two gentlemen ſucceſſively to deſire that Daviſon would not go to the chancellor, until ſhe ſhould ſee him, but Daviſon telling her that the warrant had been already ſealed, ſhe ſeemed diſpleaſed at his precipitation. Daviſon, who probably wiſhed himſelf to ſee the ſentence executed, laid the affair before the council, who unanimouſly reſolved, that the warrant ſhould be immediately put in execution, and promiſed to juſtify Daviſon to the queen. Accordingly, the fatal inſtrument was delivered to Beale, who ſummoned the noblemen to whom it was directed, namely, the earls of Shrewſbury, Derby, Kent, and Cumberland, and theſe together ſet out for Fotheringay caſtle, accompanied by two executioners, to diſpatch their bloody commiſſion.

Mary heard of the arrival of her executioners, who ordered her to prepare for death by eight o'clock the next morning.

Early on the fatal morning ſhe dreſſed herſelf in a rich habit of ſilk and velvet, the only one which ſhe had reſerved for this ſolemn occaſion. Thomas Andrews, the under-ſheriff of the county, then entering the room, he informed her that the hour was come, and that he muſt attend her to the place of execution. She replied, that ſhe was ready; and bidding her ſervants farewell, ſhe proceeded, ſupported by two of her guards, and followed the ſheriff, with a ſerene compoſed aſpect, with a long veil of linen on her head, and in her hand a crucifix of ivory.

[Page 176] She then paſſed into another hall, the noblemen and the ſheriff going before, and Melvil, her maſter of the houſehold, bearing up her train; where was a ſcaffold erected and covered with black. As ſoon as ſhe was ſeated, Beale began to read the warrant for her execution. Then Fletcher, dean of Peterborough, ſtanding without the rails, repeated a long exhortation, which ſhe deſired him to forbear, as ſhe was firmly reſolved to die in the catholic religion. The room was crowded with ſpectators, who beheld her with pity and diſtreſs, while her beauty, though dimmed by age and affliction, gleamed through her ſufferings, and was ſtill remarkable in this fatal moment. The two executioners kneeling, and aſking her pardon, ſhe ſaid ſhe forgave them, and all the authors of her death, as freely as ſhe hoped forgiveneſs from her Maker, and then once more made a ſolemn proteſtation of her innocence. Her eyes were then covered with a linen handkerchief; and ſhe laid herſelf down without any fear or trepidation. Then reciting a pſalm, and repeating a pious ejaculation, her head was ſevered from her body at two ſtrokes by the executioner. In contemplating the contentions of mankind, we find almoſt ever both ſides culpable; Mary, who was ſtained with crimes that deſerved puniſhment, was put to death by a princeſs who had no juſt pretenſions to inflict puniſhment on her equal.

In the mean time Philip, king of Spain, who had long meditated the deſtruction of England, and whoſe extenſive power gave him grounds to hope for ſucceſs, now began to put his projects into execution. The point on which he reſted his glory, and the perpetual object of his ſchemes, was to ſupport the catholic religion, and exterminate the reformation. The revolt of his ſubjects in the Netherlands ſtill more enflamed his reſentment againſt the Engliſh, as they had encouraged that inſurrection, and [Page 177] aſſiſted the revolters. He had, therefore, for ſome time been making preparations to attack England by a powerful invaſion; and now every part of his vaſt empire reſounded with the noiſe of armaments, and every art was uſed to levy ſupplies for that great deſign The marquis of Santa Croce, a ſea officer of great reputation and experience, was deſtined to command the fleet, which conſiſted of an hundred and thirty veſſels, of a greater ſize than any that had been hitherto ſeen in Europe. The duke of Parma was to conduct the land forces, twenty thouſand of whom were on board the fleet, and thirty-four thouſand more were aſſembled in the Netherlands, ready to be tranſported into England; no doubt was entertained of this fleet's ſucceſs, and it was oftentatiouſly ſtyled the Invincible Armada.

Nothing could exceed the terror and conſternation which all ranks of people felt in England upon news of this terrible Armada being under ſail to invade them.—A fleet of not above thirty ſhips of war, and thoſe very ſmall, in compariſon, was all that was to oppoſe it by ſea; and as for reſiſting by land, that was ſuppoſed to be impoſſible, as the Spaniſh army was compoſed of men well diſciplined, and long enured to danger.

Although the Engliſh fleet was much inferior in number and ſize of ſhipping to that of the enemy, yet it was much more manageable, the dexterity and courage of the mariners being greatly ſuperior. Lord Howard of Eſſingham, a man of great courage and capacity, as lord Admiral, took on him the command of the navy. Drake, Hawkins, and Frobiſher, the moſt renowned ſeamen in Europe, ſerved under him; while a ſmall ſquadron conſiſting of forty veſſels, Engliſh and Flemiſh, commanded by lord Seymour, lay off Dunkirk, in order to intercept the duke of Parma. This was the preparation made by the Engliſh, while all the proteſtant powers [Page 178] of Europe regarded this enterprize as the critical event which was to decide for ever the fate of their religion.

In the mean time, while the Spaniſh Armada was preparing to ſail, the admiral Santa Croce died, as likewiſe the vice admiral Paliano; and the command of the expedition was given to the duke de Medina Sidonia, a perſon utterly unexperienced in ſea affairs; and this, in ſome meaſure, ſerved to fruſtrate the deſign. But ſome other accidents alſo contributed to its failure. Upon leaving the port of Liſbon, the Armada next day met with a violent tempeſt, which ſunk ſome of the ſmalleſt of their ſhipping, and obliged the fleet to put back into harbour. After ſome time ſpent in refitting, they again put to ſea; where they took a fiſherman, who gave them intelligence that the Engliſh fleet, hearing of the diſperſion of the Armada in a ſtorm, was retired back into Plymouth harbour, and moſt of the mariners diſcharged. From this falſe intelligence, the Spaniſh admiral, inſtead of going directly to the coaſt of Flanders, to take in the troops ſtationed there, as he had been inſtructed, reſolved to ſail to Plymouth, and deſtroy the ſhipping laid up in that harbour. But Effingham the Engliſh admiral, was very well prepared to receive them; he was juſt got out of port when he ſaw the Spaniſh Armada coming full ſail towards him, diſpoſed in the form of an half moon, and ſtretching ſeven miles from one extremity to the other. However, the Engliſh admiral, ſeconded by Drake, Hawkins, and Frobiſher, attacked the Armada at a diſtance, pouring in their broadſides with admirable dexterity. They did not chuſe to engage the enemy more cloſely, becauſe they were greatly inferior in the number of ſhips, guns, and weight of metal; nor could they pretend to board ſuch lofty ſhips without manifeſt diſadvantage. However, two Spaniſh galleons were diſabled and taken. As the [Page 179] Armada advanced up the Channel, the Engliſh ſtill followed and infeſted their rear; and their fleet continually encreaſing from different ports, they ſoon found themſelves in a capacity to attack the Spaniſh fleet more nearly; and accordingly fell upon them, while they were as yet taking ſhelter in the port of Calais. To encreaſe their confuſion, Howard took eight of his ſmaller ſhips, and filling them with combuſtible materials, ſent them, as if they had been fire ſhips, one after the other into the midſt of the enemy. The Spaniards, taking them for what they ſeemed to be, immediately took flight in great diſorder; while the Engliſh, profiting by their panic, took or deſtroyed about twelve of the enemy.

This was a fatal blow to Spain; the duke de Medina Sidonia being thus driven to the coaſt of Zealand, held a council of war, in which it was reſolved, that as their ammunition began to fail, as their ſhips had received great damage, and the duke of Parma had refuſed to venture his army under their protection, they ſhould return to Spain by ſailing round the Orkneys, as the winds were contrary to his paſſage directly back. Accordingly they proceeded northward, and were followed by the Engliſh fleet as far as Flamborough-head, where they were terribly ſhattered by a ſtorm. Seventeen of the ſhips, having five thouſand men on board, were afterwards caſt away upon the weſtern iſles, and the coaſt of Ireland. Of the whole Armada, three and fifty ſhips only returned to Spain, in a miſerable condition; and the ſeamen as well as ſoldiers who remained, only ſerved, by their accounts, to intimidate their countrymen from attempting to renew ſo dangerous an expedition.

From being invaded, the Engliſh in their turn, attacked the Spaniards. Of thoſe who made the moſt ſignal figure in the depredations upon Spain, was the young earl of Eſſex, a nobleman of great bravery, generoſity, and genius; and fitted, not only for the foremoſt ranks [Page 180] in war by his valour, but to conduct the intrigues of a court by his eloquence and addreſs. In all the maſques which were then performed, the earl and Elizabeth were generally coupled as partners; and although ſhe was almoſt ſixty, and he not half ſo old, yet her vanity overlooked the diſparity; the world told her that ſhe was young, and ſhe herſelf was willing to think ſo. This young earl's intereſt in the queen's affections, as may naturally be ſuppoſed, promoted his intereſts in the ſtate; and he conducted all things at his diſcretion. But young and unexperienced as he was, he at length began to fancy that the popularity he poſſeſſed, and the flatteries he received, were given to his merits, and not to his favour. In a debate before the queen, between him and Burleigh, about the choice of a governor for Ireland, he was ſo heated in the argument, that he entirely forgot both the rules and duties of civility. He turned his back on the queen in a contemptuous manner, which ſo provoked her reſentment, that ſhe inſtantly gave him a box on the ear. Inſtead of recollecting himſelf, and making the ſubmiſſions due to her ſex and ſtation, he clapped his hand to his ſword; and ſwore he would not bear ſuch uſage even from her father. This offence, tho' very great, was overlooked by the queen; her partiality was ſo prevalent, that ſhe re-inſtated him in her former favour, and her kindneſs ſeemed to have acquired new force from that ſhort interruption of anger and reſentment. The death alſo of his rival, lord Burleigh, which happened ſhortly after, ſeemed to confirm his power. At that time the earl of Tyrone headed the rebellious natives of Ireland; who, not yet thoroughly brought into ſubjection to the Engliſh, took every opportunity to make incurſions upon the more civilized inhabitants, and ſlew all they were able to overpower. To ſubdue theſe was an employment that Eſſex thought worthy of his [Page 181] ambition; nor were his enemies diſpleaſed at thus removing a man from court, where he obſtructed all their private aims of preferment. But it ended in his ruin.

Inſtead of attacking the enemy in their grand retreat in Ulſter, he led his forces into the province of Munſter, where he only exhauſted his ſtrength, and loſt his opportunity againſt a people that ſubmitted at his approach, but took up arms again when he retired. This iſſue of an enterprize, from which much was expected, did not fail to provoke the queen moſt ſenſibly; and her anger was ſtill more heightened by the peeviſh and impatient letters, which he daily wrote to her and the council. But her reſentment againſt him was ſtill more juſtly let looſe, when ſhe found, that leaving the place of his appointment, and without any permiſſion demanded or obtained, he had returned from Ireland to make his complaints to herſelf in perſon.

Tho' Elizabeth was juſtly offended, [Note: A. D. 1600.] yet he ſoon won upon her temper to pardon him. He was ordered to continue a priſoner in his own houſe till the queen's further pleaſure ſhould be known, and it is probable that the diſcretion of a few months might have reinſtated him in all his former employments; but the impetuoſity of his character would not ſuffer him to wait for a ſlow redreſs of what he conſidered as wrongs; and the queen's refuſing his requeſt to continue him in the poſſeſſion of a lucrative monopoly of ſweet wines, which he had long enjoyed, ſpurred him on to the moſt violent and guilty meaſures. Having long built with fond credulity on his great popularity, he began to hope, from the aſſiſtance of the giddy multitude, that revenge upon his enemies in the council, which he ſuppoſed was denied him from the throne. His greateſt dependence was upon the profeſſions of the citizens of London, whoſe ſchemes of religion and [Page 182] government he appeared entirely to approve; and while he gratified the Puritans by railing at the government of the church, he pleaſed the envious, by expoſing the faults of thoſe in power. Among other criminal projects, the reſult of blind rage and deſpair, it was reſolved, that Sir Chriſtopher Blount, one of his creatures, ſhould, with a choice detachment, poſſeſs himſelf of the palace gates; that Sir John Davis ſhould ſeize the hall, Sir Charles Davers the guard-chamber, while Eſſex himſelf ſhould ruſh in from the Meuſe, attended by a body of his partizans, into the queen's preſence, entreat her to remove his and her enemies, to aſſemble a new parliament, and to correct the defects of the preſent adminiſtration.

While Eſſex was deliberating upon the manner he ſhould proceed, he received a private note, by which he was warned to provide for his own ſafety. He now, therefore, conſulted with his friends touching the emergency of their ſituation; they were deſtitute of arms and ammunition, while the guards at the palace were doubled, ſo that any attack there would be fruitleſs. While he and his confidants were in conſultation, a perſon, probably employed by his enemies, came in as a meſſenger from the citizens, with tenders of friendſhip and aſſiſtance againſt all his adverſaries. Wild as the project was of raiſing the city, in the preſent terrible conjuncture it was reſolved on, but the execution of it was delayed till the day following.

Early in the morning of the next day, he was attended by his friends, the earls of Rutland and Southampton, the lords Sandes, Parker, and Mounteagle, with three hundred perſons of diſtinction. The doors of Eſſex-houſe were immediately locked, to prevent all ſtrangers from entering; and the earl now diſcovered his ſcheme for raiſing the city more fully to all the conſpirators. In the mean time, Sir [Page 183] Walter Raleigh ſending a meſſage to Sir Ferdinando Gorges, this officer had a conference with him in a boat on the Thames, and there diſcovered all their proceedings. The earl of Eſſex, who now ſaw that all was to be hazarded, reſolved to leave his houſe, and to ſally forth to make an inſurrection in the city. But he had made a very wrong eſtimate in expecting that popularity alone could aid him in time of danger; he iſſued out with about two hundred followers, armed only with ſwords; and in his paſſage to the city was joined by the earl of Bedford and lord Cromwell. As he paſſed through the ſtreets, he cried aloud, For the queen! for the queen! a plot is laid for my life! hoping to engage the populace to riſe; but they had received orders from the mayor to keep within their houſes; ſo that he was not joined by a ſingle perſon. In this manner, attended by a few of his followers, the reſt having privately retired, he made towards the river; and, taking a boat, arrived once more at Eſſex-houſe, where he began to make preparations for his defence. But his caſe was too deſperate for any remedy from valour; wherefore, after demanding in vain for hoſtages, and conditions from his beſiegers, he ſurrendered at diſcretion, requeſting only civil treatment, and a fair and impartial hearing.

Eſſex and Southampton were immediately carried to the archbiſhop's palace at Lambeth, from whence they were next day conveyed to the Tower, and tried by their peers on the nineteenth of February following. Little could be urged in their defence; their guilt was too flagrant, and though it deſerved pity it could not meet an acquittal. Eſſex after condemnation was viſited by that religious horror which ſeemed to attend him in all his diſgraces. He was terrified almoſt to deſpair by the ghoſtly remonſtrances of his own chaplain, he was reconciled to his enemies, and made a full confeſſion of his conſpiracy. [Page 184] It is alledged upon this occaſion, that he had ſtrong hopes of pardon, from the irreſolution which the queen ſeemed to diſcover before ſhe ſigned the warrant for his execution. She had given him formerly a ring, which ſhe deſired him to ſend her in any emergency of this nature, and that it ſhould procure his ſafety and protection. This ring was actually ſent her by the counteſs of Nottingham, who, being a concealed enemy to the unfortunate earl, never delivered it; while Elizabeth was ſecretly fired at his obſtinacy in making no applications for mercy and forgiveneſs. The fact is, ſhe appeared herſelf as much an object of pity, as the unfortunate nobleman ſhe was induced to condemn. She ſigned the warrant for his execution, ſhe countermanded it, ſhe again reſolved on his death, and again felt a new return of tenderneſs. At laſt ſhe gave her conſent to his execution, and was never ſeen to enjoy one happy day more.

With the death of her favourite Eſſex, all Elizabeth's pleaſures ſeemed to expire; ſhe afterwards went through the buſineſs of the ſtate merely from habit, but her ſatisfactions were no more. Her diſtreſs was more than ſufficient to deſtroy the remains of her conſtitution; and her end was now viſibly ſeen to approach. Her voice ſoon after left her; ſhe fell into a lethargic ſlumber, which continued ſome hours, and ſhe expired gently without a groan, in the ſeventieth year of her age, and the forty-fifth of her reign. Her character differed with her circumſtances; in the beginning, ſhe was moderate and humble; towards the end of her reign, haughty and ſevere. Though ſhe was poſſeſſed of excellent ſenſe, yet ſhe never had the diſcernment to diſcover that ſhe wanted beauty; and to flatter her charms at the age of ſixty-five, was the ſureſt road to her favour and eſteem.

[Page 185] But whatever were her perſonal defects as a queen, ſhe is to be ever remembered by the Engliſh with gratitude. It is true, indeed, that ſhe carried her prerogative in parliament to its higheſt pitch; ſo that it was tacitly allowed in that aſſembly, that ſhe was above all law, and could make and unmake them at her pleaſure; yet ſtill ſhe was ſo wiſe and good, as ſeldom to exert that power which ſhe claimed, and to enforce few acts of her prerogative, which were not for the benefit of her people. It is true, in like manner, that the Engliſh during her reign were put in poſſeſſion of no new or ſplendid acquiſitions; but commerce was daily growing up among them, and the people began to find that the theatre of their trueſt conqueſts was to be on the boſom of the ocean. A nation which hitherto had been the object of every invaſion, and a prey to every plunderer, now aſſerted its ſtrength in turn, and became terrible to its invaders. The ſucceſsful voyages of the Spaniards and Portugueſe, began to excite their emulation; and they ſitted out ſeveral expeditions for diſcovering a ſhorter paſſage to the Eaſt-Indies. The famous Sir Walter Raleigh, without any aſſiſtance from government, colonized New England, while internal commerce was making equal improvements; and many Flemings, perſecuted in their native country, found, together with their arts and induſtry, an eaſy aſylum in England. Thus the whole iſland ſeemed as if rouzed from her long habits of barbarity; arts, commerce, and legiſlation began to acquire new ſtrength every day; and ſuch was the ſtate of learning at that time, that ſome ſix that period as the Auguſtan age of England. Sir Walter Raleigh and Hooker are conſidered as among the firſt improvers of our language. Spenſer and Shakeſpeare are too well known as poets to be praiſed here; but of all mankind Francis Bacon, lord Verulam, who flouriſhed in this reign, deſerves, as a philoſopher, the higheſt applauſe; his ſtyle is copious and [Page 186] correct, and his wit is only ſurpaſſed by his learning and penetration. If we look through hiſtory, and conſider the riſe of kingdoms, we ſhall ſcarce find an inſtance of a people, becoming, in ſo ſhort a time, wiſe, powerful, and happy. Liberty, it is true, ſtill continued to fluctuate; Elizabeth knew her own power, and ſtretched it to the very verge of deſpotiſm; but now that commerce was introduced, liberty ſoon after followed; for there never was a nation perfectly commercial, that ſubmitted long to ſlavery.


JAMES, the ſixth of Scotland and the firſt of England, the ſon of Mary, came to the throne with the univerſal approbation of all orders of the ſtate, as in his perſon were united every claim that either deſcent, bequeſt, or parliamentary ſanction could confer. However, in the very beginning of his reign a conſpiracy was ſet on foot, the particulars of which are but obſcurely related. It is ſaid to be began by lord Grey, lord Cobham, and Sir Walter Raleigh, who were all condemned to die, but had their ſentence mitigated by the king. Cobham and Grey were pardoned, after they had laid their heads on the block. Raleigh was reprieved, but remained in confinement many years afterwards, and at laſt ſuffered for this offence, which was never proved.

Mild as this monarch was in toleration, there was a project contrived in the very beginning of his reign for there-eſtabliſhment of popery, which, were it not a fact known to all the world, could ſcarcely be credited by poſterity. This was the gun-powder plot, than which a more horrid or terrible ſcheme never entered into the human heart to conceive.

[Page 187] The Roman catholics had expected great favour and indulgence on the acceſſion of James, both as a deſcendant of Mary, a rigid catholic, and alſo as having ſhewn ſome partiality to that religion in his youth. But they ſoon diſcovered their miſtake; and were at once ſurpriſed and enraged to find James on all occaſions expreſs his reſolution of ſtrictly executing the laws enacted againſt them, and of perſevering in the conduct of his predeceſſor. This declaration determined them upon more deſperate meaſures; and they at length formed a reſolution of deſtroying the king and both houſes of parliament at a blow. The ſcheme was firſt broached by Robert Cateſby, a gentleman of good parts and ancient family, who conceived that a train of gun-powder might be ſo placed under the parliament houſe, as to blow up the king and all the members at once.

How horrid ſoever the contrivance might appear, yet every member ſeemed faithful and ſecret in the league; and about two months before the ſitting of parliament, they hired a houſe in Percy's name, adjoing to that in which the parliament was to aſſemble. Their firſt intention was to bore a way under the parliament-houſe, from that which they occupied, and they ſet themſelves laboriouſly to the taſk; but when they had pierced the wall which was three yards in thickneſs, on approaching the other ſide, they were ſurpriſed to find that the houſe was vaulted underneath, and that a magazine of coals were uſually depoſited there. From their diſappointment on this account they were ſoon relieved by information that the coals were then ſelling off, and that the vaults would then be let to the higheſt bidder. They therefore ſeized the opportunity of hiring the place, and bought the remaining quantity of coals with which it was then ſtored, as if for their own uſe. The next thing done was to convey thither thirty-ſix barrels of gun-powder, which had been purchaſed in Holland; and [Page 188] the whole was covered with the coals and with faggots brought for that purpoſe. Then the doors of the cellar were boldly flung open, and every body admitted, as if it contained nothing dangerous.

Confident of ſucceſs, they now began to plan the remaining part of their project. The king, the queen, and prince Henry, the king's eldeſt ſon, were all expected to be preſent at the opening of the parliament. The king's ſecond ſon, by reaſon of his tender age, would be abſent, and it was reſolved that Percy ſhould ſeize, or aſſaſſinate him. The princeſs Elizabeth, a child likewiſe, was kept at lord Harrington's houſe in Warwickſhire; and Sir Everard Digby was to ſeize her, and immediately proclaim her queen.

The day for the ſitting of parliament now approached. Never was treaſon more ſecret, or ruin more apparently inevitable; the hour was expected with impatience, and the conſpirators gloried in their meditated guilt. The dreadful ſecret, though communicated to above twenty perſons, had been religiouſly kept during the ſpace of near a year and a half; when all the motives of pity, juſtice, and ſafety, were too weak, a remorſe of private friendſhip ſaved the kingdom.

Sir Henry Percy, one of the conſpirators, conceived a deſign of ſaving the life of lord Mounteagle, his intimate friend and companion, who alſo was of the ſame perſuaſion with himſelf. About ten days before the meeting of parliament, this nobleman, upon his return to town, received a letter from a perſon unknown, and delivered by one who fled as ſoon as he had diſcharged his meſſage. The letter was to this effect, "My lord, ſtay away from this parliament; for God and man have concurred to puniſh the wickedneſs of the times. And think not ſlightly of this advertiſement, but retire yourſelf into your country, where you may expect the event in ſafety. [Page 189] For though there be no appearance of any ſtir, yet I ſay they will receive a terrible blow this parliament; and yet they ſhall not ſee who hurts them. This council is not to be contemned, becauſe it may do you good, and can do you no harm. For the danger is paſt as ſoon as you have burned the letter."

The contents of this myſterious letter ſurprized and puzzled the nobleman to whom it was addreſſed; and though inclined to think it a fooliſh attempt to affright and ridicule him, yet he judged it ſafeſt to carry it to lord Saliſbury, ſecretary of ſtate. Lord Saliſbury too was inclined to give little attention to it, yet thought proper to lay it before the king in council, who came to town a few days after. None of the council were able to make any thing of it, although it appeared ſerious and alarming. In this univerſal agitation between doubt and apprehenſion, the king was the firſt who penetrated the meaning of this dark epiſtle. He concluded that ſome ſudden danger was preparing by gun-powder; and it was thought adviſeable to inſpect all the vaults below the houſes of parliament. This care belonged to the earl of Suffolk, lord chamberlain, who purpoſely delayed the ſearch, [Note: Nov. 5. 1605.] till the day before the meeting of parliament. He remarked thoſe great piles of faggots which lay in the vault under the houſe of Peers, and ſeized a man preparing for the terrible enterpriſe, dreſſed in a cloak and boots, and a dark lanthorn in his hand. This was no other than Guy Fawkes, who had juſt diſpoſed every part of the train for its taking fire the next morning, the matches and other combuſtibles being found in his pockets. The whole of the deſign was now diſcovered; but the atrociouſneſs of his guilt, and the deſpair of pardon, inſpiring him with reſolution, he told the officers of juſtice, with an undaunted air, that had he blown them and himſelf up together he had been happy. Before the [Page 190] council, he diſplayed the ſame intrepid firmneſs, mixed even with ſcorn and diſdain, refuſing to diſcover his aſſociates, and ſhewing no concern but for the failure of his enterprize. But his bold ſpirit was at length ſubdued; being confined to the Tower for two or three days, and the rack juſt ſhewn him, his courage, fatigued with ſo long an effort, at laſt failed him, and he made a full diſcovery of all his accomplices.

Cateſby, Percy, and the conſpirators who were in London, hearing that Fawkes was arreſted, fled with all ſpeed to Warwickſhire, where Sir Everard Digby, relying on the ſucceſs of the plot, was already in arms. But the country ſoon began to take the alarm, and wherever they turned, they found a ſuperior force ready to oppoſe them. In this exigence, beſet on all ſides, they reſolved, to about the number of eighty perſons, to fly no farther, but make a ſtand at an houſe in Warwickſhire, to defend it to the laſt, and ſell their lives as dearly as poſſible. But even this miſerable conſolation was denied them: a ſpark of fire happening to fall among ſome gun-powder that was laid to dry, it blew up, and ſo maimed the principal conſpirators, that the ſurvivors reſolved to open the gate, and ſally out againſt the multitude that ſurrounded the houſe. Some were inſtantly cut to pieces; Cateſby, Percy, and Winter, ſtanding back to back, fought long and deſperately, till in the end the two firſt fell covered with wounds, and Winter was taken alive. Thoſe that ſurvived the ſlaughter were tried and convicted; ſeveral fell by the hands of the executioner, and others experienced the king's mercy. The Jeſuits, Garnet and Oldcorn, who were privy to the plot, ſuffered with the reſt; and, notwithſtanding the atrociouſneſs of their treaſon, Garnet was conſidered by his party as a martyr, and miracles were ſaid to have been wrought by his blood.

[Page 191] The ſagacity with which the king firſt diſcovered the plot, [Note: A. D. 1612.] raiſed the opinion of his wiſdom among the people; the folly with which he gave himſelf up to his favourites quickly undeceived the nation. In the firſt rank of theſe ſtood Robert Carre, a youth of a good family in Scotland, who, after having paſſed ſome time in his travels, arrived in London, at about twenty years of age. All his natural accompliſhments conſiſted in a pleaſing viſage; all his acquired abilities, in an eaſy and graceful demeanor. This youth was ſoon conſidered as the moſt riſing man at court; he was knighted, created viſcount Rocheſter, honoured with the order of the garter, made a privy-counſellor; and, to raiſe him to the higheſt pitch of honour, he was at laſt created earl of Somerſet.

This was an advancement which ſome regarded with envy; but the wiſer part of mankind looked upon it with contempt and ridicule, ſenſible that ungrounded attachments are ſeldom of long continuance. Some time after being accuſed and convicted from private motives of poiſoning Sir Thomas Overbury in the Tower, he fell under the king's diſpleaſure, and being driven from court, ſpent the remainder of his life in contempt and ſelf-conviction.

But the king had not been ſo improvident as to part with one favourite until he had provided himſelf with another. This was George Villiers, a youth of one and twenty, a younger brother of a good family, who was returned about that time from his travels, and whom the enemies of Somerſet had taken occaſion to throw in the king's way, certain that his beauty and faſhionable manners would do the reſt. Accordingly he had been placed at a comedy full in the king's view, and immediately caught the monarch's affections.

In the courſe of a few years he created him viſcount Villiers, earl, marquis, and duke of Buckingham, [Page 192] knight of the garter, maſter of the horſe, chief juſtice in eyre, warden of the cinque ports, maſter of the king's bench office, ſteward of Weſtminſter, conſtable of Windſor, and lord high admiral of England.

The univerſal murmur which theſe fooliſh attachments produced, was ſoon after heightened by an act of ſeverity, which ſtill continues as the blackeſt ſtain upon this monarch's memory. The brave and learned Raleigh had been confined in the Tower almoſt from the very beginning of James's acceſſion, for a conſpiracy which had never been proved againſt him; and in that abode of wretchedneſs he wrote ſeveral valuable performances, which are ſtill in the higheſt eſteem. His long ſufferings, and his ingenious writings, had now turned the tide of popular opinion in his favour; and they who once deteſted the enemy of Eſſex, could not now help pitying the long captivity of this philoſophical ſoldier. He himſelf ſtill ſtruggled for freedom; and perhaps it was with this deſire that he ſpread the report of his having diſcovered a gold mine in Guiana, which was ſufficient to enrich, not only the adventurers who ſhould ſeize it, but afford immenſe treaſures to the nation. The king, either believing his aſſertions, or willing to ſubject him to further diſgrace, granted him a commiſſion to try his fortune in queſt of theſe golden ſchemes; but ſtill reſerved his former ſentence as a check upon his future behaviour.

Raleigh was not long in making preparations for this adventure, which, from the ſanguine manner in which he carried it on, many believe he thought to be as promiſing as he deſcribed it. He bent his courſe to Guiana, and remaining himſelf at the mouth of the river Oroonoco, with five of the largeſt ſhips, he ſent the reſt up the ſtream, under the command of his ſon and of captain Keymis, a perſon entirely devoted to his intereſts. But inſtead of a country abounding in gold, as the adventurers were taught [Page 193] to expect, they found the Spaniards had been warned of their approach, and were prepared in arms to receive them. Young Raleigh, to encourage his men, called out that "This was the true mine," meaning the town of St. Thomas, which he was approaching; "and that none but fools looked for any other:" but juſt as he was ſpeaking, he received a ſhot, of which he immediately expired. This was followed by another diſappointment, for when the Engliſh took poſſeſſion of the town, they found nothing in it of any value.

Raleigh, in this forlorn ſituation, found now that all his hopes were over; but ſaw his misfortunes ſtill farther aggravated by the reproaches of thoſe whom he had undertaken to command. Nothing could be more deplorable than his ſituation, particularly when he was told that he muſt be carried back to England to anſwer for his conduct to the king. It is pretended that he employed many artifices, firſt to engage them to attack the Spaniſh ſettlements at a time of peace; and failing of that, to make his eſcape into France. But all theſe proving unſucceſsful, he was delivered into the king's hands, and ſtrictly examined, as well as his fellow adventurers, before the privy-council. Count Gondemar, the Spaniſh ambaſſador, made heavy complaints againſt the expedition; and the king declared that Raleigh had expreſs orders to avoid all diſputes and hoſtilities againſt the Spaniards. Wherefore, to give the court of Spain a particular inſtance of his attachment, he ſigned the warrant for his execution, not for the preſent offence, but for his former conſpiracy. This great man died with the ſame fortitude that he had teſtified through life; he obſerved, as he felt the edge of the ax, that it was a ſharp but a ſure remedy for all evils; his harangue to the people was calm and eloquent; and he laid his head down on the block with the utmoſt in [...]ifference.

[Page 194] But there ſoon appeared very apparent reaſons for James's partiality to the court of Spain. [Note: A. D. 1618.] This monarch had entertained an opinion which was peculiar to himſelf, that in marrying his ſon Charles, the prince of Wales, any alliance below that of royalty would be unworthy of him; he therefore was obliged to ſeek, either in the court of France or Spain, a ſuitable match, and he was taught to think of the latter. Gondemar, who was ambaſſador from that court, perceiving this weak monarch's partiality to a crowned head, made an offer of the ſecond daughter of Spain to prince Charles; and that he might render the temptation irreſiſtible, he gave hopes of an immenſe fortune which ſhould attend the princeſs. However, this was a negotiation that was not likely ſoon to be ended; and from the time the idea was firſt ſtarted, James ſaw five years elapſed without bringing the treaty to any kind of concluſion.

A delay of this kind was very diſpleaſing to the king, who had all along an eye on the great fortune of the princeſs; nor was it leſs diſagreeable to prince Charles, who, bred up with ideas of romantic paſſion, was in love without ever ſeeing the object of his affections. In this general tedium of delay, a project entered the head of Villiers, who had for ſome years ruled the king with abſolute authority, that was fitter to be conceived by the knight of a romance, than by a miniſter and a ſtateſman. It was projected that the prince ſhould himſelf travel in diſguiſe into Spain, and viſit the princeſs of that country in perſon. Buckingham, who wanted to ingratiate himſelf with the prince, offered to be his companion; and the king, whoſe buſineſs it was to check ſo wild a ſcheme, gave his conſent to this hopeful propoſal. Their adventures on this ſtrange project could fill novels; and have actually been made the ſubject of many. Charles [Page 195] was the knight-errant, and Buckingham was his 'ſquire. The match however broke off, for what reaſon hiſtorians do not aſſign; but if we may credit the noveliſts of that time, the prince had already fixed his affections upon the daughter of Henry IV. of France, whom he married ſhortly after.

It may eaſily be ſuppoſed that theſe miſmanagements were ſeen and felt by the people. The houſe of commons was by this time become quite unmanageable; the prodigality of James to his favourites, had made his neceſſities ſo many, that he was contented to ſell the different branches of his prerogative to the commons, one after the other, to procure ſupplies. In proportion as they perceived his wants, they found out new grievances; and every grant of money was ſure to come with a petition for redreſs. The ſtruggles between him and his parliament had been growing more and more violent every ſeſſion; and the very laſt advanced their pretenſions to ſuch a degree, that he began to take the alarm; but theſe evils fell upon the ſucceſſor, which the weakneſs of this monarch had contributed to give birth to.

Theſe domeſtic troubles were attended by others ſtill more important in Germany, and which produced in the end the moſt dangerous effects. The king's eldeſt daughter had been married to Frederic, the elector Palatine of Germany, and this prince revolting againſt the emperor Ferdinand the Second, was defeated in a deciſive battle, and obliged to take refuge in Holland. His affinity to the Engliſh crown, his misfortunes, but particularly the proteſtant religion, for which he had contended, were ſtrong motives for the people of England to wiſh well to his cauſe; and frequent addreſſes were ſent from the commons to ſpur up James to take a part in the German conteſt, and to replace the exiled prince upon the throne of his anceſtors. James at firſt attempted [Page 196] to ward off the misfortunes of his ſon-in-law by negotiations; [Note: A. D. 1620.] but theſe proving utterly ineffectual, it was reſolved at laſt to reſcue the Palatinate from the emperor by force of arms. Accordingly war was declared againſt Spain and the emperor; ſix thouſand men were ſent over into Holland, to aſſiſt prince Maurice in his ſchemes againſt thoſe powers; the people were every where elated at the courage of their king, and were ſatisfied with any war which was to exterminate the papiſts. This army was followed by another conſiſting of twelve thouſand men, commanded by count Mansfeldt; and the court of France promiſed its aſſiſtance. But the Engliſh were diſappointed in all their views: the troops being embarked at Dover, upon ſailing to Calais, they found no orders for their admiſſion. After waiting in vain for ſome time, they were obliged to ſail towards Zealand, where no proper meaſures were yet conſulted for their diſembarkation. Mean while, a peſtilential diſtemper crept in among the forces, ſo long cooped up in narrow veſſels; half the army died while on board, and the other half, weakened by ſickneſs, appeared too ſmall a body to march into the Palatinate; and thus ended this ill-concerted and fruitleſs expedition.

Whether this misfortune had any effect upon James's conſtitution is uncertain; [Note: A. D. 1625.] but he was ſoon after ſeized with a tertian ague, which, when his courtiers aſſured him from the proverb that it was health for a king, he replied, that the proverb was meant for a young king. After ſome ſits he found himſelf extremely weakened, and ſent for the prince, whom he exhorted to perſevere in the proteſtant religion; then preparing with decency and courage to meet his end, he expired, after a reign over England of twenty-two years, and in the fifty-ninth year of his age.


[Page 197]

FEW princes ever aſcended a throne with more apparent advantages than Charles; [Note: A. D. 1625.] and none ever encountered more real difficulties.

Indeed, he undertook the reins of government with a fixed perſuaſion that his popularity was ſufficient to carry every meaſure. He had been loaded with a treaty for defending the prince Palatine his brother-in-law in the late reign; and the war declared for that purpoſe was to be carried on with vigour in this. But war was more eaſily declared than ſupplies granted. After ſome reluctance the commons voted him two ſubſidies; a ſum far from being ſufficient to ſupport him in his intended equipment.

To ſupply the want of parliamentary aids, Charles had recourſe to ſome of the ancient methods of extortion, practiſed by ſovereigns when in neceſſitous circumſtances. That kind of tax called a benevolence was ordered to be exacted, and privy ſeals were iſſued accordingly. With this the people were obliged, though reluctantly, to comply; it was in fact authoriſed by many precedents; but no precedents whatſoever could give a ſanction to injuſtice.

After an ineffectual expedition to Cadiz, another attempt was made to obtain ſupplies in a more regular and conſtitutional manner than before. Another parliament was accordingly called; and though ſome ſteps were taken to exclude the more popular leaders of the laſt houſe of commons, by nominating them as ſheriffs of counties, yet the preſent parliament ſeemed more refractory than the former. When the king laid before the houſe his neceſſities, and [Page 198] aſked for a ſupply, they voted him only three ſubſidies, which amounted to about an hundred and ſixty thouſand pounds; a ſum no way adequate to the importance of the war, or the neceſſities of the ſtate. In order, therefore, to gain a ſufficient ſupply, a commiſſion was openly granted to compound with the catholics, and agree for a diſpenſation of the penal laws againſt them. He borrowed a ſum of money from the nobility, whoſe contributions came in but ſlowly. But the greateſt ſtretch of his power was in the levying of ſhip-money. In order to equip a fleet (at leaſt this was the pretence made) each of the maritime towns was required, with the aſſiſtance of the adjacent counties, to arm as many veſſels as were appointed them. The city of London was rated at twenty ſhips. This was the commencement of a tax, which afterwards, being carried to ſuch violent lengths, created ſuch great diſcontents in the nation.

War being ſoon after declared againſt France, a fleet was ſent out, under the command of Buckingham, to relieve Rochelle, a maritime town in that kingdom, that had long enjoyed its privileges independent of the French king; but that had for ſome years embraced the reformed religion, and now was beſieged with a formidable army. This expedition was as unfortunate as that to the coaſts of Spain. The duke's meaſures were ſo ill concerted, that the inhabitants of the city ſhut their gates, and refuſed to admit allies, of whoſe coming they were not previouſly informed. Inſtead of attacking the iſland of Oleron, which was fertile and defenceleſs, he bent his courſe to the Iſle of Rhé, which was garriſoned, and well fortified. He attempted there to ſtarve out the garriſon of St. Martin's caſtle, which was plentifully ſupplied with proviſions by ſea. By that time the French had landed their ſo [...]ces privately at another part of the iſland; ſo that Buckingham was at [Page 199] laſt obliged to retreat, but with ſuch precipitation, that two-thirds of his army were cut in pieces before he could reimbark, though he was the laſt man of the whole army that quitted the ſhore. This proof of his perſonal courage, however, was but a ſmall ſubject of conſolation for the diſgrace which his country had ſuſtained, for his own perſon would have been the laſt they would have regretted.

The conteſt between the king and the commons every day grew warmer. The officers of the cuſtom-houſe were ſummoned before the commons, to give an account by what authority they ſeized the goods of the merchants, who had refuſed to pay the duty of tonnage and poundage, which they alledged was levied without the ſanction of a law. The barons of the Exchequer were queſtioned concerning their decrees on that head; and the ſheriff of London was committed to the Tower for his activity [...]n ſupporting the cuſtom-houſe officers. Theſe were bold meaſures; but the commons went ſtill farther, by a reſolution to examine into religious grievances, and a new ſpirit of intolerance began to appear. [Note: A. D. 1629.] The king, therefore, reſolved to diſſolve a parliament, which he found himſelf unable to manage; and Sir John Finch, the ſpeaker, juſt as the queſtion concerning tonnage and poundage was going to be put, roſe up, and informed the houſe that had a command from the king to adjourn.

The houſe upon this was in an uproar; the ſpeaker was puſhed back into his chair, and forcibly held in it by Hollis and Valentine, till a ſhort remonſtrance was framed, and paſſed by acclamation rather than vote. In this haſty production, Papiſts and Arminians were declared capital enemies to the ſtate. Tonnage and poundage was condemned as contrary to law; and not only thoſe who raiſed that duty, but [Page 200] thoſe who paid it, were conſidered as guilty of capital crimes

In conſequence of this violent procedure, Sir Miles Hobart, Sir Peter Heyman, Selden, Coriton, Long, and Strode, were, by the king's order, committed to priſon, under pretence of ſedition. But the ſame temerity that impelled Charles to impriſon them, induced him to grant them a releaſe. Sir John Elliot, Hollis, and Valentine, were ſummoned before the King's Bench: but they refuſing to appear before an inferior tribunal, for faults committed in a ſuperior, they were condemned to be impriſoned during the king's pleaſure, to pay a fine, the two former of a thouſand pounds each, and the latter of five hundred, and to find ſureties for their good behaviour. The members triumphed in their ſufferings, while they had the whole kingdom as ſpectators and applauders of their fortitude.

Isaac Taylor del. et sculp.

Published by G. Kearsley in Fleet Street, as the Act directs. July [...] d 1774.

Figure 3. Villiers Duke of Buckingham kill'd by Felton.
[Page] [...] [Page 201] [...]

[Page 202] The king's firſt meaſure, now being left without a miniſter and a parliament, [Note: A. D. 1629.] was a prudent one. He made peace with the two crownst againſt whom he had hitherto waged war, which had been entered upon without neceſſity, and conducted without glory. Being freed from theſe embarraſſments, he bent his whole attention to the management of the internal policy of the kingdom, and took two men as his aſſociates in this taſk, who ſtill acted an under part to himſelf. Theſe were Sir Thomas Wentworth, afterwards created earl of Strafford; and Laud, afterwards archbiſhop of Canterbury.

While Laud, therefore, during this long interval, ruled the church, the king and Strafford undertook to manage the temporal intereſts of the nation. A declaration was diſperſed, implying, that during this reign no more parliaments would be ſummoned; and every meaſure of the king but too well ſerved to confirm the ſuſpicion.

Tonnage and poundage were continued to be levied by royal authority alone: cuſtom-houſe officers received orders from the council to enter any houſe whatever, in ſearch of ſuſpected goods: compoſitions were openly made with papiſts; and their religion was become a regular part of the revenue. The high commiſſion court of Star-chamber exerciſed its power, independant of any law, upon ſeveral bold innovators in liberty, who only gloried in their ſufferings, and contributed to render government odious and contemptible. Prynne, a barriſter of Lincoln's inn, Burton, a divine, and Baſtwick, a phyſician, were tried before this tribunal for ſchiſmatical libels, in which they attacked, with great ſeverity and intemperate zeal, the ceremonies of the church of England. They were condemned to be pilloried, to loſe their ears, and to pay five thouſand pounds to the king.

[Page 203] Every year, every month, every day, gave freſh inſtances, during this long intermiſſion of parliaments, of the reſolutions of the court to throw them off for ever: but the levying of ſhip-money, as it was called, being a general burthen, was univerſally complained of as a national grievance. This was a tax which had, in former reigns, been levied without the conſent of parliament; but then the exigency of the ſtate demanded ſuch a ſupply. John Hamden, a gentleman of fortune in Buckinghamſhire, refuſed to comply with the tax, and reſolved to bring it to a legal determination. He had been rated at twenty-ſhillings for his eſtate, which he refuſed to pay; and the caſe was argued twelve days in the Exchequer chamber, before all the judges of England. The nation regarded, with the utmoſt anxiety, the reſult of a trial that was to fix the limits of the king's power. All the judges, four only excepted, gave ſentence in favour of the crown; while Hamden, who loſt his cauſe, was more than ſufficiently recompenſed by the applauſes of the people.

The diſcontent and oppoſition which the king met with in maintaining epiſcopacy among his Engliſh ſubj [...]cts might, one would think, hinder him from attempting to introduce it among thoſe of Scotland, where it was generally hateful. Having publiſhed an order for reading the liturgy in the principal church in Edinburgh, the people received it with clamours and imprecations. The ſeditious diſpoſition in that kingdom, which had hitherto been kept within bounds, was now too furious for reſtraint, and the inſurrection became general over all the country, and the Scotch flew to arms with great animoſity.

Yet ſtill the king could not think of deſiſting from his deſign; and ſo prepoſſeſſed was he in favour of royal right, that he thought the very name of king, when forcibly urged, would induce them to return [Page 204] to their duty. Inſtead therefore of fighting with his opponents, he entered upon a treaty with them; ſo that a ſuſpenſion of arms was ſoon agreed upon, and a treaty of peace concluded, which neither ſide intended to obſerve; and then both parties agreed to diſband their forces. After much altercation, and many treaties ſigned and broken, both parties once more had recourſe to arms, and nothing but blood could ſatiate the contenders.

War being thus reſolved on, the king took every method as before for raiſing money to ſupport it. Ship-money was levied as uſual; ſome other arbitrary taxes were exacted from the reluctant people with great ſeverity; but theſe were far from being ſufficient; and there now remained only one method more, the long neglected method of a parliamentary ſupply.

The new houſe of commons, however, could not be induced to treat the Scotch, who were of the ſame principles with themſelves, and contending againſt the ſame ceremonies, as enemies to the ſtate. They regarded them as friends and brothers, who firſt roſe to teach them a duty it was incumbent on all virtuous minds to imitate. The king, therefore, could reap no other fruits from this aſſembly than murmurings and complaints. Every method he had taken to ſupply himſelf with money was declared an abuſe, and a breach of the conſtitution. The king, therefore, finding no hopes of a compliance with his requeſt, but recrimination inſtead of redreſs, once more diſſolved the parliament, to try more feaſible methods of removing his neceſſities.

His neceſſities however continuing, that parliament was called, which did not ceaſe ſitting till they overturned the conſtitution. Without any interval, they entered upon buſineſs; and by unanimous conſent they ſtruck a blow that might be regarded as deciſive. Inſtead of granting the demanded ſubſidies, [Page 205] they impeached the earl of Strafford, the king's firſt miniſter, and had him arraigned before the houſe of peers for high treaſon. After a long and eloquent ſpeech, delivered without premeditation, in which he confuted all the accuſations of his enemies, he was found guilty by both houſes of parliament; and nothing remained but for the king to give his conſent to the bill of attainder. Charles, who loved Strafford tenderly, heſitated, and ſeemed reluctant, trying every expedient to put off ſo dreadful a duty, as that of ſigning the warrant for his execution. While he continued in this agitation of mind, not knowing how to act, his doubts were at laſt ſilenced by an act of heroic bravery in the condemned lord. He received a letter from that unfortunate nobleman, deſiring that his life might be made the ſacrifice of a mutual reconciliation between the king and his people; adding, that he was prepared to die, and to a willing mind there could be no injury. This inſtance of noble generoſity was but ill repaid by his maſter, who complied with his requeſt. He conſented to the ſigning the fatal bill by commiſſion; Strafford was beheaded on Tower-hill, behaving with all that compoſed dignity of reſolution that was expected from his character.

In this univerſal rage for puniſhment, the parliament fell with great juſtice on two courts, which had been erected under arbitrary kings, and had ſeldom been employed but in caſes of neceſſity. Theſe were, the High-commiſſion court, and the court of Star-chamber. A bill unanimouſly paſſed the houſes to aboliſh both; and in them to annihilate the principal and moſt dangerous articles in the king's prerogative.

In the midſt of theſe troubles, the papiſts of Ireland fancied they found a convenient opportunity of throwing off the Engliſh yoke, and accordingly reſolved to cut off all the proteſtants of the kingdom at a ſtroke; ſo that neither age, ſex, or condition, received [Page 206] any pity. In ſuch indiſcriminate ſlaughter, neither former benefits, nor alliances, nor authority, were any protection: numberleſs were the inſtances of friends murdering their intimates, relations their kinſmen, and ſervants their maſters. In vain did flight ſave from the firſt aſſault; deſtruction, that had an extenſive ſpread, met the hunted victims at every turn.

The king took all the precautions in his power to ſhew his utter deteſtation of theſe bloody proceedings; and being ſenſible of his own inability to ſuppreſs the rebellion, had once more recourſe to his Engliſh parliament, and craved their aſſiſtance for a ſupply. But here he found no hopes of aſſiſtance; many inſinuations were thrown out that he had himſelf fomented this rebellion, and no money could be ſpared for the extinction of diſtant dangers, when they pretended that the kingdom was threatened with greater at home.

It was now that the republican ſpirit began to appear without any diſguiſe in the preſent parliament; and that party, inſtead of attacking the faults of the king, reſolved to deſtroy monarchy.

The leaders of the oppoſition began their operations by a reſolution to attack epiſcopacy, which was one of the ſtrongeſt bulwarks of the royal power. [Note: A. D. 1641.] They accuſed thirteen biſhops of high treaſon, for enacting canons without the conſent of parliament; and endeavoured to prevail upon the houſe of peers to exclude all the prelates from their ſeats and votes in that auguſt aſſembly. The biſhops ſaw the ſtorm that was gathering againſt them; and, probably, to avert its effects, they reſolved to attend their duty in the houſe of lords no longer.

This was a fatal blow to the royal intereſt; but it ſoon felt a much greater from the king's own imprudence. Charles had long ſuppreſſed his reſentment, [Page 207] and only ſtrove to ſatisfy the commons by the greatneſs of his conceſſions; but finding that all his compliance had but encreaſed their demands, he could no longer contain. He gave orders to Herbert, his attorney-general, to enter an accuſation of high treaſon in the houſe of peers againſt lord Kimbolton, one of the moſt popular men of his party, together with five commoners, Sir Arthur Haſlerig, Hollis, Hambden, Pym, and Strode. The articles were, that they had traiterouſly endeavoured to ſubvert the fundamental laws and government of the kingdom; to deprive the king of his regal power, and to impoſe on his ſubjects an arbitrary and tyrannical authority. Men had ſcarce leiſure to wonder at the precipitancy and imprudence of this impeachment, when they were aſtoniſhed by another meaſure, ſtill more raſh and more unſupported. The next day the king himſelf was ſeen to enter the houſe of commons alone, advancing through the hall, while all the members ſtood up to receive him. The ſpeaker withdrew from his chair, and the king took poſſeſſion of it. Having ſeated himſelf, and looked round him for ſome time, he told the houſe that he was ſorry for the occaſion that forced him thither, that he was come in perſon to ſeize the members, whom he had accuſed of high treaſon, ſeeing they would not deliver them up to his ſerjeant at arms. He then ſate for ſome time to ſee if the accuſed were preſent; but they had eſcaped a few minutes before his entry. Thus diſappointed, perplexed, and not knowing on whom to rely, he next proceeded, amidſt the clamours of the populace, who continued to cry out, "Privilege! privilege!" to the common council of the city, and made his complaint to them. The common council only anſwered his complaints with a contemptuous ſilence; and on his return, one of the populace, more inſolent than the reſt, cried out, ‘"To your tents, O [Page 208] Iſrael!"’ a watch word among the Jews, when they intended to abandon their princes.

Being returned to Windſor, he began to reflect on the raſhneſs of his former proceedings; and now too late reſolved to make ſome atonement. He therefore wrote to the parliament, informing them, that he deſiſted from his former proceedings againſt the accuſed members; and aſſured them, that upon all occaſions he would be as careful of their privileges as of his life or his crown. Thus his former violence had rendered him hateful to his commons, and his preſent ſubmiſſion now rendered him contemptible.

The power of appointing generals and levying armies was ſtill a remaining prerogative of the crown. The commons having, therefore, firſt magnified their terrors of popery, which perhaps they actually dreaded, they proceeded to petition that the Tower might be put into their hands, and that Hull, Portſmouth, and the fleet, ſhould be intruſted to perſons of their chuſing. Theſe were requeſts, the complying with which levelled all that remained of the ancient conſtitution; however, ſuch was the neceſſity of the times, that they were at firſt conteſted, and then granted. At laſt, every compliance only encreaſing the avidity of making freſh demands, the commons deſired to have a militia, raiſed and governed by ſuch officers and commanders as they ſhould nominate, under pretext of ſecuring them from the Iriſh papiſts, of whom they were in great apprehenſions.

It was here that Charles firſt ventured to put a ſtop to his conceſſions, and being urged to give up the command of the army for an appointed time, he was ſo exaſperated, that he exclaimed, "No, not for an hour." This peremptory refuſal broke off all further treaty; and both ſides were now reſolved to have recourſe to arms.

[Page 209] No period ſince England began could ſhew ſo many inſtances of courage, [Note: A. D. 1642.] abilities, and virtue, as the preſent fatal oppoſition called forth into exertion. Now was the time when talents of all kinds, unchecked by authority, were called from the lower ranks of life to diſpute for power and pre-eminence.

Manifeſtoes on the one ſide and the other were now diſperſed throughout the whole kingdom; and the people were univerſally divided between two factions, diſtinguiſhed by the names of Cavaliers and Roundheads. The king's forces appeared in a very low condition; beſides the train-bands of the county, raiſed by Sir John Digby, the ſheriff, he had not got together three hundred infantry. His cavalry, which compoſed his chief ſtrength, exceeded not eight hundred, and were very ill provided with arms. However, he was ſoon gradually reinforced from all quarters; but not being then in a condition to face his enemies, he thought it prudent to retire by ſlow marches to Derby, and thence to Shrewſbury, in order to countenance the levies which his friends were making in thoſe quarters.

In the mean time, the parliament were not remiſs in preparations on their ſide. They had a magazine of arms at Hull, and Sir John Hotham was appointed governor of that place by parliament. The forces alſo, which had been every where raiſed on pretence of the ſervice of Ireland, were now more openly enliſted by the parliament for their own purpoſes; and the command given to the earl of Eſſex, a bold man, who rather deſired to ſee monarchy abridged, than totally deſtroyed, and in London, no leſs than four thouſand men were enliſted in one day.

Edge-Hill was the firſt place where the two armies were put in array againſt each other, and the country drenched in civil ſlaughter. It was a dreadful [Page 210] ſight, to ſee above thirty thouſand of the braveſt men in the world, inſtead of employing their courage abroad, turning it againſt each other, while the deareſt friends, and neareſt kinſmen, embraced oppoſite ſides, and prepared to bury their private regards in factious hatred. After an engagement of ſome hours, animoſity ſeemed to be wearied out, and both ſides ſeparated with equal loſs. Five thouſand men are ſaid to have been found dead on the field of battle.

It would be tedious, and no way inſtructive, to enter into the marchings and countermarchings of theſe undiſciplined and ill conducted armies: war was a new trade to the Engliſh, as they had not ſeen an hoſtile engagement in the iſland for near a century before. The queen came to re-inforce the royal party; ſhe had brought ſoldiers and ammunition from Holland, and immediately departed to furniſh more. But the parliament, who knew its own conſequence and ſtrength, was no way diſcouraged. Their demands ſeemed to encreaſe in proportion to their loſſes; and as they were repreſſed in the field, they grew more haughty in the cabinet. Such governors as gave up their fortreſſes to the king, were attainted of high treaſon. It was in vain for the king to ſend propoſals after any ſucceſs; this only raiſed their pride and their animoſity. But though this deſire in the king to make peace with his ſubjects was the higheſt encomium on his humanity, yet his long necogciations, one of which he carried on at Oxford, were faulty as a warrior. He waſted that time in altercation and treaty, which he ſhould have employed in vigorous exertions in the field.

However, his firſt campaign, upon the whole, wore a favourable aſpect. One victory followed after another; Cornwall was reduced to peace and obedience under the king: a victory was gained over the parliamentarians at Stratton Hill, in Devonſhire; [Page 211] another at Roundway Down, about two miles from the Devizes; and ſtill a third at Chalgrave Field. Briſtol was beſieged and taken, and Glouceſter was inveſted; the battle of Newbury was favourable to the royal cauſe, and great hopes of ſucceſs were formed from an army in the North, raiſed by the marquis of Newcaſtle.

In this firſt campaign, the two braveſt and greateſt men of their reſpective parties were killed; as if it was intended, by the kindneſs of Providence, that they ſhould be exempted from ſeeing the miſeries and the ſlaughter which were ſhortly to enſue. Theſe were John Hampden, and Lucius Cary, lord Falkland.

The firſt in a ſkirmiſh againſt prince Rupert, the other in the battle of Newbury, which followed ſhortly after. Hampden, whom we have ſeen in the beginning of theſe troubles, refuſe to pay ſhip-money, gained, by his inflexible integrity, the eſteem even of his enemies. To theſe he added affability in converſation, temper, art, eloquence in debate, and penetration in council.

Falkland was ſtill a greater loſs, and a greater character. He added to Hamden's ſevere principles, a politeneſs and elegance, but then beginning to be known in England. He had boldly withſtood the king's pretenſions, while he ſaw him making a bad uſe of his power; but when he perceived the deſign of the parliament, to overturn the religion and the conſtitution of his country, he changed his ſide, and ſtedfaſtly attached himſelf to the crown. From the beginning of the civil war, his natural chearfulneſs and vivacity forſook him; he became melancholy, ſad, pale, and negligent of his perſon, and ſeemed to wiſh for death. His uſual cry among his friends, after a deep ſilence, and frequent ſighs, was Peace! Peace! He now ſaid, upon the morning of the engagement, that he was weary of the times, and ſhould leave them before night. He was ſhot by a [Page 212] muſquet-ball in the belly; and his body was next morning found among an heap of ſlain. His writings, his elegance, his juſtice, and his courage, deſerved ſuch a death of glory: and they found it.

The king, that he might make preparations during the winter for the enſuing campaign, and to oppoſe the deſigns of the Weſtminſter parliament, called one at Oxford; and this was the firſt time that England ſaw two parliaments ſitting at the ſame time. His houſe of peers was pretty full; his houſe of commons conſiſted of about an hundred and forty, which amounted to not above half of the other houſe of commons. From this ſhadow of a parliament he received ſome ſupplies, after which it was prorogued, and never after aſſembled.

In the mean time the parliament was equally active on their ſide. They paſſed an ordinance, commanding all the inhabitants of London and its neighbourhood to retrench a meal a week, and to pay the value of it for the ſupport of the public cauſe. But what was much more effectual, the Scotch, who conſidered their claims as ſimilar, led a ſtrong body to their aſſiſtance. They levied an army of fourteen thouſand men in the Eaſt, under the earl of Mancheſter; they had an army of ten thouſand men under Eſſex, another of nearly the ſame force, under Sir William Waller. Theſe were ſuperior to any force the king could bring into the field; and were well appointed with ammunition, proviſions and pay.

[Note: A. D. 1644.]Hoſtilities, which even during the winter ſeaſon had never been wholly diſcontinued, were renewed in ſpring with their uſual fury, and ſerved to deſolate the kingdom, without deciding victory. Each county joined that ſide to which it was addicted from motives of conviction, intereſt, or fear, though ſome obſerved a perfect neutrality. Several frequently petitioned [Page 213] for peace; and all the wiſe and good were earneſt in the cry. What particularly deſerves remark, was an attempt of the women of London; who, to the number of two or three thouſand, went in a body to the houſe of commons, earneſtly demanding a peace. "Give us thoſe traitors, ſaid they, that are againſt a peace; give them, that we may tear them in pieces." The guards found ſome difficulty in quelling this inſurrection, and one or two women loſt their lives in the fray.

The battle of Marſton-Moor was the beginning of the king's misfortunes and diſgrace. The Scotch and parliamentarian army had joined, and were beſieging York; when prince Rupert, joined by the marquis of Newcaſtle, determined to raiſe the ſiege. Both ſides drew up on Marſton Moor, to the number of fifty thouſand, and the victory ſeemed long undecided between them. Rupert, who commanded the right wing of the royaliſts, was oppoſed by Oliver Cromwell, who now firſt came into notice, at the head of a body of troops, whom he had taken care to levy and diſcipline. Cromwell was victorious; he puſhed his opponents off the field, followed the vanquiſhed, returned to a ſecond engagement, and a ſecond victory; the prince's whole train of artillery was taken, and the royaliſts never after recovered the blow.

William Laud, archbiſhop of Canterbury, was ſent to the Tower in the beginning of this reign. He was now brought to his trial, condemned and executed. And it was a melancholy conſideration, that in theſe times of trouble, the beſt men were thoſe on either ſide who chiefly ſuffered.

The death of Laud was followed by a total alteration of the ceremonies of the church. The Liturgy was, by a public act, aboliſhed the day he died, as if he had been the only obſtacle to its former removal. The church of England was in all reſpects brought [Page 214] to a conformity to the puritanical eſtabliſhment; while the citizens of London, and the Scotch army, gave public thanks for ſo happy an alteration.

[Note: June 14, 1645.]The well-diſputed battle, which decided the fate of Charles, was fought at Naſeby, a village in Yorkſhire. The main body of the royal army was commanded by lord Aſtley, prince Rupert led the right wing, Sir Marmaduke Langdale the left, and the king himſelf headed the body of reſerve. On the oppoſite ſide, Fairfax and Skippon commanded the main body; Cromwell led on the right wing, and Ireton, his ſon-in-law, the left. Prince Rupert attacked the left wing with his uſual impetuoſity and ſucceſs: they were broke and purſued as far as the village; but he loſt time in attempting to make himſelf maſter of their artillery. Cromwell, in the mean time, was equally ſucceſsful on his ſide, and broke through the enemies horſe after a very obſtinate reſiſtance. While theſe were thus engaged, the infantry on both ſides maintained the conflict with equal ardour; but in ſpite of the efforts of Fairfax and Skippon, their battalions began to give way. But it was now that Cromwell returned with his victorious forces, and charged the king's infantry in flank with ſuch vigour, that a total rout began to enſue. By this time prince Rupert had rejoined the king, and the ſmall body of reſerve; but his troops, though victorious, could not be brought to a ſecond charge. The king perceiving the battle wholly loſt, was obliged to abandon the field to his enemies, who took all his cannon, baggage, and above five thouſand priſoners.

The battle of Naſeby put the parliamentarians in poſſeſſion of almoſt all the ſtrong cities of the kingdom, Briſtol, Bridgewater, Cheſter, Sherborn, and Bath. Exeter was beſieged; and all the king's troops in the weſtern counties being entirely diſperſed, [Page 215] Fairfax preſſed the place, and it ſurrendered at diſcretion. The king thus ſurrounded, harraſſed on every ſide, retreated to Oxford, that in all conditions of his fortune had held ſteady to his cauſe; and there he reſolved to offer new terms to his incenſed purſuers.

In the mean time Fairfax was approaching with a powerful and victorious army, and was taking the proper meaſures of laying ſiege to Oxford, which promiſed an eaſy ſurrender. To be taken captive, and led in triumph by his inſolent ſubjects, was what Charles juſtly abhorred; and every inſult and violence was to be dreaded from the ſoldiery, who had felt the effects of his oppoſition. In this deſperate extremity he embraced a meaſure which, in any other ſituation, might juſtly lie under the imputation of imprudence and indiſcretion. He took the fatal reſolution of giving himſelf up to the Scotch army, who had never teſtified ſuch implacable animoſity againſt him; and he too ſoon found, that inſtead of treating him as a king, they inſulted him as a captive.

The Engliſh parliament being informed of the king's captivity, immediately entered into a treaty with the Scotch about delivering up their priſoner. This was ſoon adjuſted. They agreed, that upon payment of four hundred thouſand pounds they would deliver up the king to his enemies, and this was chearfully complied with. An action ſo atrocious may be palliated, but can never be defended; they returned home laden with plunder, and the reproaches of all good men.

The civil war was now over; the king had abſolved his followers from their allegiance, and the parliament had now no enemy to fear, except thoſe very troops by which they had extended their overgrown authority. But in proportion as the terror of the king's power diminiſhed, the diviſions between the [Page 216] members which compoſed the parliament, became more apparent. The majority in the houſe were of the preſbyterian ſect, who were for having clergy; but the majority of the army were ſtaunch independents, who admitted of no clergy, but thought that every man had a right to inſtruct his fellows. At the head of this ſect was Cromwell, who ſecretly directed its operations, and invigorated all their meaſures.

Oliver Cromwell, whoſe talents now began to appear in full luſtre, was the ſon of a private gentleman of Huntingdon; but being the ſon of a ſecond brother, he inherited a very ſmall paternal fortune. From accident or intrigue, he was choſen member for the town of Cambridge, in the long parliament; but he ſeemed at firſt to poſſeſs no talents for oratory, his perſon being ungraceful, his dreſs ſlovenly, his elocution homely, tedious, obſcure, and embarraſſed. He made up, however, by zeal and perſeverance, what he wanted in natural powers; and being endowed with unſhaken intrepidity, much diſſimulation, and a thorough conviction of the rectitude of his cauſe, he roſe, through the gradations of preferment, to the poſt of lieutenant-general under Fairfax; but, in reality, poſſeſſing the ſupreme command over the whole army.

The army now began to conſider themſelves as a body diſtinct from the commonwealth; and complained, that they had ſecured the general tranquility, while they were, at the ſame time, deprived of the privileges of Engliſhmen. In oppoſition, therefore, to the parliament at Weſtminſter, a military parliament was formed, compoſed of the officers and common ſoldiers of each regiment. The principal officers formed a council to repreſent the body of peers; the ſoldiers elected two men out of each company to repreſent the houſe of commons, and theſe were called the agitators of the army. Cromwell took [Page 217] care to be one of the number, and thus contrived an eaſy method under-hand of conducting and promoting the ſedition of the army.

The unhappy king, in the mean time, continued a priſoner at Holmby caſtle; and as his countenance might add ſome authority to that ſide which ſhould obtain it, Cromwell, who ſecretly conducted all the meaſures of the army, while he apparently exclaimed againſt their violence, reſolved to ſeize the king's perſon. Accordingly, a party of five hundred horſe appearing at Holmby caſtle, under the command of one Joyce, conducted the king to the army, who were haſtening to their rendezvous at Triplo-heath, near Cambridge. The next day Cromwell arrived among them, where he was received with acclamations of joy, and was inſtantly inveſted with the ſupreme command.

The houſe of commons was now divided into parties, as uſual, one part oppoſing, but the minority, with the two ſpeakers at their head, for encouraging the army. In ſuch an univerſal confuſion, it is not to be expected that any thing leſs than a ſeparation of the parties could take place; and accordingly the two ſpeakers, with ſixty-two members, ſecretly retired from the houſe, and threw themſelves under the protection of the army, that were then at Hounſlow heath. They were received with ſhouts and acclamations, their integrity was extolled, and the whole body of the ſoldiery, a formidable force of twenty thouſand men, now moved forward to reinſtate them in their former ſeats and ſtations.

In the mean time, that part of the houſe that was left behind, reſolved to act with vigour, and reſiſt the encroachments of the army. They choſe new ſpeakers, they gave orders for enliſting troops, they ordered the train-bands to man the lines, and the whole city boldly reſolved to reſiſt the invaſion. But this reſolution only held while the enemy was thought [Page 218] at a diſtance; for when the formidable force of Cromwell appeared, all was obedience and ſubmiſſion; the gates were opened to the general, who attended the two ſpeakers, and the reſt of the members, peaceably to their habitations. The eleven impeached members, being accuſed as cauſes of the tumult, were expelled, and moſt of them retired to the continent. The mayor, ſheriff, and three aldermen, were ſent to the Tower; ſeveral citizens, and officers of militia, were committed to priſon, and the lines about the city were levelled to the ground. The command of the Tower was given to Fairfax, the general; and the parliament ordered him their hearty thanks for having diſobeyed their commands.

It now only remained to diſpoſe of the king, who had been ſent by the army a priſoner to Hampton-Court; from whence he attempted to eſcape, but was once more made priſoner in the Iſle of Wight, and confined in Cariſbrook caſtle.

While the king continued in this forlorn ſituation, the parliament, new-modelled as it was by the army, was every day growing more feeble and factious. He ſtill therefore continued to negociate with the parliament for ſettling the unſpeakable calamities of the kingdom. The parliament ſaw no other method of deſtroying the military power, but to depreſs it by the kingly. Frequent propoſals for an accommodation paſſed between the captive king and the commons.

But it was now too late; their power was ſoon totally to expire, for the rebellious army, crowned with ſucceſs, was returned from the deſtruction of their enemies; and, ſenſible of their own power, with furious remonſtrances began to demand vengeance on the king. At the ſame time they advanced to Windſor: and ſending an officer to ſeize the king's perſon, where he was lately ſent under confinement, [Page 219] they conveyed him to Hurſt-caſtle, in Hampſhire, oppoſite the Iſle of Wight. The commons, however, though deſtitute of all hopes of prevailing, had ſtill courage to reſiſt, and attempted, in the face of the whole army, to cloſe their treaty with the king. But the next day colonel Pride, at the head of two regiments, blockaded the houſe, and ſeized in the paſſage forty-one members of the preſbyterian party, and ſent them to a low room belonging to the houſe, that paſſed by the denomination of Hell. Above an hundred and ſixty members more were excluded; and none were allowed to enter but the moſt furious and determined of the independents, in all not exceeding ſixty. This atrocious invaſion of the parliamentary rights, commonly paſſed by the name of Pride's purge, and the remaining members were called the Rump. Theſe ſoon voted, that the tranſactions of the houſe a few days before were entirely illegal, and that their general's conduct was juſt and neceſſary.

A committee was appointed to bring in a charge againſt the king; and a vote paſſed declaring it treaſon in a king to levy war againſt his parliament. An High Court of Juſtice was accordingly appointed to try his majeſty for this new invented treaſon.

Colonel Harriſon, the ſon of a butcher, was commanded to conduct the king from Hurſt caſtle to Windſor, and from thence to London. His afflicted ſubjects, who ran to have a ſight of their ſovereign, were greatly affected at the change that appeared in his face and perſon. He had allowed his beard to grow; his hair was become venerably grey, rather by the preſſure of anxiety than the hand of time▪ while his apparel bore the marks of misfortune and decay. Thus he ſtood a ſolitary figure of majeſty in diſtreſs, which even his adverſaries could not behold without reverence and compaſſion. He had been long attended only by an old decrepid [Page 220] ſervant, whoſe name was Sir Philip Warwick, who could only deplore his maſter's fate, without being able to revenge his cauſe. All the exterior ſymbols of ſovereignty were now withdrawn; and his new attendants had orders to ſerve him without ceremony. The duke of Hamilton, who was reſerved for the ſame puniſhment with his maſter, having leave to take a laſt farewell as he departed from Windſor, threw himſelf at the king's feet, crying out, "My dear maſter." The unhappy monarch raiſed him up, and embracing him tenderly, replied, while the tears ran down his cheeks, "I have indeed been a dear maſter to you." Theſe were ſevere diſtreſſes: however, he could not be perſuaded that his adverſaries would bring him to a formal trial; but he every moment expected to be diſpatched by private aſſaſſination.

From the ſixth, to the twentieth of January, was ſpent in making preparations for his extraordinary trial. The court of juſtice conſiſted of an hundred and thirty-three perſons named by the commons; but of theſe never above ſeventy met upon the trial. The members were chiefly compoſed of the principal officers of the army, moſt of them of very mean birth, together with ſome of the lower houſe, and a few citizens of London. Bradſhaw, a lawyer, was choſen preſident, Coke was appointed ſolicitor for the people of England, Doriſlaus, Steele and Aſke, were named aſſiſtants. The court ſat in Weſtminſter-Hall.

The king was now conducted from Windſor to St. James's, and the next day was brought before the high court to take his trial. When he was brought forward, he was conducted by the macebearer to a chair placed within the bar. Tho' long detained a priſoner, and now produced as a criminal, he ſtill ſuſtained the dignity of a king; he ſurveyed the members of the court with a ſtern haughty air, and, without moving his hat, ſat down, while the members alſo were covered. His charge was [Page 221] then read by the ſolicitor, accuſing him of having been the cauſe of all the bloodſhed which followed ſince the commencement of the war; at that part of the charge he could not ſuppreſs a ſmile of contempt and indignation. After the charge was finiſhed, Bradſhaw directed his diſcourſe to the king, and told him, that the court expected his anſwer.

The king with great temper entered upon his defence, by declining the authority of the court. He repreſented, that having been engaged in treaty with his two houſes of parliament, and having finiſhed almoſt every article, he expected a different treatment from that he now received. He perceived, he ſaid, no appearance of an upper houſe, which was neceſſary to conſtitute a juſt tribunal. That he was himſelf the king and fountain of law, and conſequently could not be tried by laws to which he had never given his aſſent; that having been entruſted with the liberties of the people, he would not now betray them, by recognizing a power founded in uſurpation; that he was willing before a proper tribunal to enter into the particulars of his defence; but that before them he muſt decline any apology for his innocence, leſt he ſhould be conſidered as the betrayer of, and not a martyr for the conſtitution.

Bradſhaw, in order to ſupport the authority of the court, inſiſted, that they had received their power from the people, the ſource of all right. He preſſed the priſoner not to decline the authority of the court, which was delegated by the commons of England, and interrupted, and over-ruled the king in his attempts to reply.

In this manner the king was three times produced before the court, and as often perſiſted in declining its juriſdiction. The fourth and laſt time he was brought before the ſelf-created tribunal, as he was proceeding thither, he was inſulted by the ſoldiers and the mob, who exclaimed, ‘"Juſtice! juſtice! execution! execution!"’ but he continued undaunted. [Page 222] His judges having now examined ſome witneſſes, by whom it was proved that the king had appeared in arms againſt the forces commiſſioned by parliament, they pronounced ſentence againſt him.

The conduct of the king under all theſe inſtances of low-bred malice was great, firm, and equal; in going through the hall from this execrable tribunal, the ſoldiers and rabble were again inſtigated to cry out juſtice and execution. They reviled him with the moſt bitter reproaches. Among other inſults, one miſcreant preſumed to ſpit in the face of his ſovereign. He patiently bore their inſolence. ‘"Poor ſouls, cried he, they would treat their generals in the ſame manner for ſix-pence."’ Thoſe of the populace, who ſtill retained the feelings of humanity, expreſſed their ſorrow in ſighs and tears. A ſoldier, more compaſſionate than the reſt, could not help imploring a bleſſing upon his royal head. An officer overhearing him, ſtruck the honeſt centinel to the ground before the king, who could not help ſaying, that the puniſhment exceeded the offence.

At his return to Whitehall, he deſired the permiſſion of the houſe to ſee his children, and to be attended in his private devotions by doctor Juxon, late biſhop of London. Theſe requeſts were granted, and alſo three days to prepare for the execution of the ſentence. All that remained of his family now in England, were the princeſs Elizabeth, and the duke of Glouceſter, a child of about three years of age. After many ſeaſonable and ſenſible exhortations to his daughter, he took his little ſon in his arms, and embracing him, ‘"My child, ſaid he, they will cut off thy father's head, yes, they will cut off my head, and make thee a king. But mark what I ſay; thou muſt not be a king as long as thy brothers Charles and James are alive. They will cut off their heads when they can take them, and thy head too they will cut off at laſt, and [Page 223] therefore I charge thee do not be made a king by them"’ The child, burſting into tears, replied, ‘""I will be torn in pieces firſt.""’

Every night during the interval between his ſentence and execution, the king ſlept ſound as uſual, though the noiſe of the workmen, employed in framing the ſcaffold, continually reſounded in his ears. The fatal morning being at laſt arrived, he roſe early; and calling one of his attendants, he bad him employ more than uſual care in dreſſing him, and preparing him for ſo great and joyful a ſolemnity. The ſtreet before Whitehall was the place deſtined for his execution; for it was intended that this would increaſe the ſeverity of his puniſhment. He was led through the Banquetting Houſe to the ſcaffold adjoining to that edifice, attended by his friend and ſervant biſhop Juxon, a man endowed with the ſame mild and ſteady virtues with his maſter. The ſcaffold, which was covered with black, was guarded by a regiment of ſoldiers, under the command of colonel Tomlinſon, and on it were to be ſeen the block, the ax, and two executioners in maſques. The people in great crowds ſtood at a greater diſtance, in dreadful expectation of the event. The king ſurveyed all theſe ſolemn preparations with calm compoſure; and as he could not expect to be heard by the people at a diſtance, he addreſſed himſelf to the few perſons who ſtood round him. He there juſtified his own innocence in the late fatal war; and obſerved, that he had not taken arms till after the parliament had ſhewn him the example. That he had no other object in his warlike preparations than to preſerve that authority entire, which had been tranſmitted to him by his anceſtors: but, though innocent towards his people, he acknowledged the equity of his execution in the eyes of his Maker. He owned that he was juſtly puniſhed for having conſented to the execution of an unjuſt ſentence upon the earl of Strafford. [Page 224] He forgave all his enemies, exhorted the people to return to their obedience, and acknowledge his ſon as his ſucceſſor, and ſignified his attachment to the proteſtant religion, as profeſſed in the church of England. So ſtrong was the impreſſion of his dying words made upon the few who could hear him, that colonel Tomlinſon himſelf, to whoſe care he had been committed, acknowledged himſelf a convert.

While he was preparing himſelf for the block, biſhop Juxon called out to him; ‘"There is, Sir, but one ſtage more, which, though turbulent and troubleſome, is yet a very ſhort one. It will ſoon carry you a great way. It will carry you from earth to heaven, and there you ſhall find, to your great joy, the prize to which you haſten, a crown of glory."’ ‘"I go, replied the king, from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown, where no diſturbance can have place."’ ‘"You exchange, replied the biſhop, a temporal for an eternal crown, a good exchange."’ Charles having taken off his cloak delivered his George to the prelate, pronouncing the word, "Remember." Then he laid his neck on the block, and ſtretching out his hands as a ſignal, one of the executioners ſevered his head from his body at a blow, while the other, holding it up, exclaimed, "This is the head of a traitor." The ſpectators teſtified their horror at that ſad ſpectacle in ſighs, tears, and lamentations; the tide of their duty and affection began to return, and each blamed himſelf either with active diſloyalty to his king, or a paſſive compliance with his deſtroyers.

Charles was executed in the forty-ninth year of his age, [Note: Jan. 30, 1649.] and the twenty-fourth of his reign. He was of a middling ſtature, robuſt, and well proportioned. His viſage was pleaſing, but melancholy; and it is probable that the continual troubles in which he was involved, might have made that impreſſion on his countenance. [Page 225] As for his character, the reader will deduce it with more preciſion and ſatisfaction to himſelf from the detail of his conduct, than from any ſummary given of it by the hiſtorian.


CROMWELL, who had ſecretly ſollicited, and contrived the king's death, [Note: A. D. 1649.] now began to feel wiſhes to which he had been hitherto a ſtranger. His proſpects widening as he roſe, his firſt principles of liberty were all loſt in the unbounded ſtretch of power that lay before him.

Having been appointed to command the army in Ireland, he proſecuted the war in that kingdom with his uſual ſucceſs. He had to combat againſt the Royaliſts, commanded by the duke of Ormond, and the native Iriſh, led on by O'Neal. But ſuch ill connected and barbarous troops could give very little oppoſition to Cromwell's more numerous forces, conducted by ſuch a general, and emboldened by long ſucceſs. He ſoon over-ran the whole country; and after ſome time, all the towns revolted in his favour, and opened their gates at his approach. But in theſe conqueſts, as in all the reſt of his actions, there appeared a brutal ferocity, that could tarniſh the moſt heroic valour. In order to intimidate the natives from defending their towns, he, with a barbarous policy, put every garriſon that made any reſiſtance to the ſword.

After his return to England, upon taking his ſeat, he received the thanks of the houſe, by the mouth of the ſpeaker, for the ſervices he had done the [Page 226] commonwealth in Ireland. They then proceeded to deliberate upon chuſing a general for conducting the war in Scotland, where they had eſpouſed the royal cauſe, and placed young Charles, the ſon of their late monarch, on the throne. Fairfax refuſing this command upon principle, as he had all along declined oppoſing the preſbyterians, the command neceſſarily devolved upon Cromwell, who boldly ſet forward for Scotland, at the head of an army of ſixteen thouſand men.

[Note: A. D. 1650.]The Scotch, in the mean time, who had invited over their wretched king, to be a priſoner, not a ruler, among them, prepared to meet the invaſion. A battle enſued, in which they, though double the number of the Engliſh, were ſoon put to ſlight, and purſued with great ſlaughter, while Cromwell did not loſe above forty men in all.

In this terrible exigence, young Charles embraced a reſolution worthy a prince, who was willing to hazard all for empire. Obſerving that the way was open to England, he reſolved immediately to march into that country, where he expected to be reinforced by all the royaliſts in that part of the kingdom.

But he ſoon found himſelf diſappointed in the expectation of encreaſing his army. The Scotch, terrified at the proſpect of ſo hazardous an enterprize, fell from him in great numbers. The Engliſh, affrighted at the name of his opponent, dreaded to join him: but his mortifications were ſtill more encreaſed as he arrived at Worceſter; when informed, that Cromwell was marching with haſty ſtrides from Scotland, with an army encreaſed to forty thouſand men. The news ſcarce arrived, when that active general himſelf appeared, and falling upon the town on all ſides, broke in upon the diſordered royaliſts. The ſtreets were ſtrewed with ſlaughter, the whole Scotch army was either killed or taken priſoners, and [Page 227] the king himſelf, having given many proofs of perſonal valour, was obliged to ſly.

Imagination can ſcarce conceive adventures more romantic, or diſtreſſes more ſevere, than thoſe which attended the young king's eſcape from the ſcene of ſlaughter. After various eſcapes, and one and forty days concealment, he landed ſafely at Feſchamp in Normandy; no leſs than forty men and women having at different times been privy to his eſcape.

In the mean time, Cromwell, crowned with ſucceſs, returned in triumph to London, where he was met by the ſpeaker of the houſe, accompanied by the mayor of London, and the magiſtrates, in all their formalities. His firſt care was to take advantage of his late ſucceſſes, by depreſſing the Scotch, who had ſo lately withſtood the work of the Goſpel, as he called it. An act was paſſed for aboliſhing royalty in Scotland, and annexing that kingdom, as a conquered province, to the Engliſh commonwealth. It was impowered, however, to ſend ſome members to the Engliſh parliament. Judges were appointed to diſtribute juſtice; and the people of that country, now freed from the tyranny of the eccleſiaſtics, were not much diſſatisfied with their preſent government. The prudent conduct of Monk, who was left by Cromwell to complete their ſubjection, ſerved much to reconcile the minds of the people, harraſſed with diſſenſions, of which they never well underſtood the cauſe.

In this manner the Engliſh parliament, by the means of Cromwell, ſpread their unconteſted authority over all the Britiſh dominions. Ireland was totally ſubdued by Ireton and Ludlow. All the ſettlements in America, that had declared for the royal cauſe, were obliged to ſubmit; Jerſey, Guernſey, Scilly, and the Iſle of Man, were brought eaſily under ſubjection. Thus mankind ſaw, with aſtoniſhment, [Page 228] a parliament compoſed of ſixty or ſeventy obſcure and illiterate members, governing a great empire with unanimity and ſucceſs. Without any acknowledged ſubordination, except a council of ſtate conſiſting of thirty-eight, to whom all addreſſes were made, they levied armies, maintained fleets, and gave laws to the neighbouring powers of Europe. The finances were managed with oeconomy and exactneſs. Few private perſons became rich by the plunder of the public: the revenues of the crown, the lands of the biſhops, and a tax of an hundred and twenty thouſand pounds each month, ſupplied the wants of the government, and gave vigour to all their proceedings.

The parliament, having thus reduced their native dominions to perfect obedience, next reſolved to chaſtiſe the Dutch, who had given but very ſlight cauſes of complaint. It happened that one doctor Doriſlaus, who was of the number of the late king's judges, being ſent by the parliament as their envoy to Holland, was aſſaſſinated by one of the royal party, who had taken refuge there. Some time after alſo, Mr. St. John, appointed their ambaſſador to that court, was inſulted by the friends of the prince of Orange. Theſe were thought motives ſufficient to induce the commonwealth of England to declare war againſt them. The parliament's chief dependence lay in the activity and courage of Blake, their admiral; who, though he had not embarked in naval command till late in life, yet ſurpaſſed all that went before him in courage and dexterity. On the other ſide, the Dutch oppoſed to him their famous admiral Van Tromp, to whom they never ſince produced an equal. Many were the engagements between theſe celebrated admirals, and various was their ſucceſs. Sea-fights, in general, ſeldom prove deciſive; and the vanquiſhed are ſoon ſeen to make head againſt the victors. Several dreadful encounters, [Page 229] therefore, rather ſerved to ſhew the excellence of the admirals, than to determine their ſuperiority. The Dutch, however, who felt many great diſadvantages by the loſs of their trade, and by the total ſuſpenſion of their fiſheries, were willing to treat for a peace; but the parliament gave them a very unfavourable anſwer. It was the policy of that body, to keep their navy on foot as long as they could; rightly judging, that while the force of the nation was exerted by ſea, it would diminiſh the power of general Cromwell by land, which was now become very formidable to them.

This great aſpirer, however, quickly perceived their deſigns; and from the firſt ſaw that they dreaded his growing power, and wiſhed its diminution. All his meaſures were conducted with a bold intrepidity that marked his character; and he now ſaw, that it was not neceſſary to wear the maſk of ſubordination any longer. Secure, therefore, in the attachment of the army, he reſolved to make another daring effort; and perſuaded the officers to preſent a petition for payment of arrears and redreſs of grievances, which he knew would be rejected by the commons with diſdain. The petition was ſoon drawn up and preſented, in which the officers, after demanding their arrears, deſired the parliament to conſider how many years they had ſat; [Note: A. D. 1653.] and what profeſſions they had formerly made of their intentions to new model the houſe, and eſtabliſh freedom on the broadeſt baſis.

The houſe was highly offended at the preſumption of the army, although they had ſeen, but too lately, that their own power was wholly ſounded on that very preſumption. They appointed a committee to prepare an act, ordaining that all perſons who preſented ſuch petitions, for the future, ſhould be deemed guilty of high treaſon. To this the officers [Page 230] made a very warm remonſtrance, and the parliament as angry a reply; while the breach between them every moment grew wider. This was what Cromwell had long wiſhed, and had long foreſeen. He was ſitting in council with his officers, when informed of the ſubject on which the houſe was deliberating; upon which he roſe up in the moſt ſeeming fury, and turning to major Vernon, cried out, ‘"That he was compelled to do a thing that made the very hair of his head ſtand on end."’ Then haſtening to the houſe with three hundred ſoldiers, and with the marks of violent indignation on his countenance he entered. Stamping with his foot, which was the ſignal for the ſoldiers to enter, the place was immediately filled with armed men. Then addreſſing himſelf to the members: ‘"For ſhame, ſaid he, get you gone. Give place to honeſter men; to thoſe who will more faithfully diſcharge their truſt. You are no longer a parliament; I tell you, you are no longer a parliament; the Lord has done with you."’ Sir Harry Vane exclaiming againſt this conduct: ‘"Sir Harry, cried Cromwell with a loud voice, O Sir Harry Vane, the Lord deliver me from Sir Harry Vane."’ Taking hold of Martin by the cloak, thou art a whore-maſter; to another, thou art an adulterer; to a third, thou art a drunkard; and to a fourth, thou art a glutton. ‘"It is you, continued he to the members, that have forced me upon this. I have ſought the Lord night and day, that he would rather ſlay me than put me upon this work."’ Then pointing to the mace, "Take away, cried he, that bauble." After which, turning out all the members, and clearing the hall, he ordered the doors to be locked, and putting the key in his pocket, returned to Whitehall.

The perſons he pitched upon for his next parliament, were the loweſt, meaneſt, and the moſt ignorant [Page 231] among the citizens, and the very dregs of the fanatics. He was well apprized that during the adminiſtration of ſuch a groupe of characters he alone muſt govern, or that they muſt ſoon throw up the reins of government, which they were unqualified to guide. Accordingly, their practice juſtified his ſagacity. One of them particularly, who was called Praiſe God Barebone, a canting leather ſeller, gave his name to this odd aſſembly, and it was called Barebone's parliament.

The very vulgar began now to exclaim againſt ſo fooliſh a legiſlature; and they themſelves ſeemed not inſenſible of the ridicule which every day was thrown out againſt them. Accordingly, by concert, they met earlier than the reſt of their fraternity; and obſerving to each other that this parliament had ſat long enough, they haſtened to Cromwell, with Rouſe their ſpeaker at their head, and into his hands they reſigned the authority with which he had inveſted them.

Cromwell accepted their reſignation with pleaſure; but being told that ſome of the number were refractory, he ſent colonel White to clear the houſe of ſuch as ventured to remain there. They had placed one Moyer in the chair by the time that the colonel had arrived; and he being aſked by the colonel, ‘""What they did there?""’ Moyer replied very gravely, that they were ſeeking the Lord. ‘"Then you may go elſewhere, cried White; for to my certain knowledge the Lord has not been here theſe many years."’

This ſhadow of a parliament being diſſolved, the officers, by their own authority, declared Cromwell protector of the commonwealth of England. He was to be addreſſed by the title of highneſs; and his power was proclaimed in London, and other parts of the kingdom. Thus an obſcure and vulgar man, at the age of fifty-three, roſe to unbounded power, firſt [Page 232] by following ſmall events in his favour, and at length by directing great ones.

Cromwell choſe his council among his officers, who had been the companions of his dangers and his victories, to each of whom he aſſigned a penſion of one thouſand pounds a year. He took care to have his troops, upon whoſe fidelity he depended for ſupport, paid a month in advance; the magazines were alſo well provided, and the public treaſure managed with frugality and care: while his activity, vigilance, and reſolution were ſuch, that he diſcovered every conſpiracy againſt his perſon, and every plot for an inſurrection before they took effect.

His management of foreign affairs, though his ſchemes were by no means political, yet well correſponded with his character, and, for a while, were attended with ſucceſs. The Dutch having been humbled by repeated defeats, and totally abridged in their commercial concerns, were obliged at laſt to ſue for peace, which he gave them upon terms rather too favourable. He inſiſted upon their paying deference to the Britiſh flag. He compelled them to abandon the intereſts of the king, and to pay eighty-five thouſand pounds as an indemnification for former expences, and to reſtore the Engliſh Eaſt India company a part of thoſe dominions of which they had been diſpoſſeſſed by the Dutch during the former reign, in that diſtant part of the world.

He was not leſs ſucceſsful in his negotiations with the court of France. Cardinal Mazarine, by whom the affairs of that kingdom were conducted, deemed it neceſſary to pay deference to the protector; and deſirous rather to prevail by dexterity than violence, ſubmitted to Cromwell's imperious character, and thus procured ends equally beneficial to both.

The court of Spain was not leſs aſſiduous in its endeavours to gain his friendſhip, but was not ſo [Page 233] ſucceſsful. This vaſt monarchy, which but a few years before had threatened the liberties of Europe, was now reduced ſo low as to be ſcarce able to defend itſelf. Cromwell, however, who knew nothing of foreign politics, ſtill continued to regard its power with an eye of jealouſy, and came into an aſſociation with France to depreſs it ſtill more. He lent that court a body of ſix thouſand men to attack the Spaniſh dominions in the Netherlands; and upon obtaining a ſignal victory by his aſſiſtance at Dunes, the French put Dunkirk, which they had juſt taken from the Spaniards, into his hands, as a reward for his attachment.

But it was by ſea that he humbled the power of Spain with ſtill more effectual ſucceſs. Blake, who had long made himſelf formidable to the Dutch, and whoſe ſame was ſpread over Europe, now became ſtill more dreadful to the Spaniſh monarchy. He ſailed with a fleet into the Mediterranean, whither, ſince the time of the cruſades, no Engliſh fleet had ever ventured to advance. He there conquered all that ventured to oppoſe him. Caſting anchor before Leghorn, he demanded and obtained ſatisfaction for ſome injuries which the Engliſh commerce had ſuffered from the duke of Tuſcany. He next ſailed to Algiers, [Note: A. D. 1655.] and compelled the Dey to make peace, and to reſtrain his pyratical ſubjects from farther injuring the Engliſh. He then went to Tunis, and having made the ſame demands, he was deſired by the Dey of that place to look at the two caſtles, Porto Farino, and Goletta, and do his utmoſt. Blake ſhewed him that he was not ſlow in accepting the challenge; he entered the harbour, burned the ſhipping there, and then ſailed out triumphantly to purſue his voyage. At Cadiz, he took two galleons valued at near two million pieces of eight. At the Canaries, he burned a Spaniſh fleet of ſixteen ſhips, and returning [Page 234] home to England to enjoy the ſame of his noble actions, as he came within ſight of his native country he expired. This gallant man, though he ſought for an uſurper, yet was averſe to his cauſe; he was a zealous republican in principle, and his aim was to ſerve his country, not to eſtabliſh a tyrant. ‘"It is ſtill our duty, he would ſay to the ſea-men, to fight for our country into whatever hands the government may fall."’

At the ſame time that Blake's expeditions were going forward, there was another carried on under the command of admiral Pen and Venables, with about four thouſand land forces, to attack the Iſland of Hiſpaniola. Failing however, in this, and being driven off the place by the Spaniards, they ſteered to Jamaica, which was ſurrendered to them without a blow. So little was thought of the importance of this conqueſt, that, upon the return of the expedition, Pen and Venables were ſent to the Tower, for their failure in the principal object of their expedition.

But it muſt not be ſuppoſed that Cromwell's ſituation was at this time enviable? Perhaps no ſtation, however mean, or loaded with contempt, could be more truly diſtreſsful than his, at a time the nation was loading him with congratulations and addreſſes. He had by this rendered himſelf hateful to every party; [Note: A. D. 1658.] and he owed his ſafety to their mutual hatred and diffidence of each other. His arts of diſſimulation had been long exhauſted; none now could be deceived by them, thoſe of his own party and principles diſdaining the uſe to which he had converted his zeal and profeſſions. The truth ſeems to be, if we may uſe a phraſe taken from common life, he had began with being a dupe to his own enthuſiaſms, and ended with being a ſharper.

The whole nation ſilently deteſted his adminiſtration, but he had not ſtill been reduced to the extreme [Page 235] of wretchedneſs, if he could have found domeſtic conſolation. Fleetwood, his ſon-in law, actuated with the wildeſt zeal, deteſted that character which could uſe religious profeſſions for the purpoſes of temporal advancement. His eldeſt daughter, married to Fleetwood, had adopted republican principles ſo vehemently, that ſhe could not behold even her own father entruſted with uncontrolable power. His other daughters were no leſs ſanguine in favour of the royal cauſe; but above all, Mrs. Claypole, his favourite daughter, who, upon her death-bed, upbraided him with all thoſe crimes that led him to trample on the throne.

Every hour added ſome new diſquietude. Lord Fairfax, Sir William Waller, and many of the heads of the preſbyterians, had ſecretly entered into an engagement to deſtroy him. His adminiſtration, ſo expenſive both at home and abroad, had exhauſted his revenue, and he was left conſiderably in debt. One conſpiracy was no ſooner detected, but another roſe from its ruins; and to encreaſe his calamity, he was now taught, upon reaſoning principles, that his death was not only deſirable, but his aſſaſſination would be meritorious. A book was publiſhed by colonel Titus, a man who had formerly been attached to his cauſe, entitled, Killing no Murder. Of all the pamphlets that came forth at that time, or perhaps of thoſe that have ſince appeared, this was the moſt eloquent and maſterly. "Shall we, ſaid this popular declaimer, who would not ſuffer the lion to invade us, tamely ſtand to be devoured by the wolf." Cromwell read this ſpirited treatiſe, and was never ſeen to ſmile more.

All peace was now for ever baniſhed from his mind. He now found, that the grandeur to which he had ſacrificed his former peace, was only an inlet to freſh inquietudes. The fears of aſſaſſination haunted him in all his walks, and was perpetually [Page 236] preſent to his imagination. He wore armour under his cloaths, and always kept piſtols in his pockets. His aſpect was clouded by a ſettled gloom; and he regarded every ſtranger with a glance of timid ſuſpicion. He always travelled with hurry, and was ever attended by a numerous guard. He never returned from any place by the road he went; and ſeldom ſlept above three nights together in the ſame chamber. Society terrified him, as there he might meet an enemy; ſolitude was terrible, as he was there unguarded by every friend.

A tertian ague kindly came at laſt to deliver him from this life of horror and anxiety. For the ſpace of a week no dangerous ſymptoms appeared; and in the intervals of the fits he was able to walk abroad. At length the fever encreaſed, and he became delirious. He was juſt able to anſwer yes, to the demand, whether his ſon Richard ſhould be appointed to ſucceed him. He died on the third day of September, [Note: A. D. 1658.] that very day which he had always conſidered as the moſt fortunate of his life; he was then fifty-nine years old, and had uſurped the government nine years.

Whatever might have been the differences of intereſt after the death of the uſurper, the influence of his name was ſtill ſufficient to get Richard his ſon proclaimed protector in his room. But the army, diſcontented with ſuch a leader, eſtabliſhed a meeting at general Fleetwood's, which, as he dwelt in Wallingford-houſe, was called the Cabal of Wallingford. The reſult of their deliberations was a remonſtrance that the command of the army ſhould be entruſted to ſome perſon in whom they might all confide; and it was plainly given to underſtand, that the young protector was not that perſon.

Richard wanted reſolution to defend the title that had been conferred upon him; he ſoon ſigned his own [Page 237] abdication in form, and retired to live ſeveral years after his reſignation, at firſt on the continent, and afterwards upon his paternal fortune at home. He was thought by the ignorant to be unworthy of the happineſs of his exaltation; but he knew by his tranquility in private, that he had made the moſt fortunate eſcape.

The officers being once more left to themſelves, determined to replace the remnant of the old parliament which had beheaded the king, and which Cromwell had ſo diſgracefully turned out of the houſe.

The Rump parliament, for that was the name it went by, being now reinſtated, was yet very vigorous in its attempts to leſſen the power by which it was replaced. The officers of the army therefore came to a reſolution, uſual enough in theſe times, to diſſolve that aſſembly, by which they were ſo vehemently oppoſed. Accordingly Lambert, one of the generals, drew up a choſen body of troops; and placing them in the ſtreets which led to Weſtminſterhall, when the ſpeaker, Lenthall, proceeded in his carriage to the houſe, he ordered the horſes to be turned, and very civily conducted him home. The other members were likewiſe intercepted, and the army returned to their quarters to obſerve a ſolemn faſt, which generally either proceeded, or attended their outrages.

During theſe tranſactions, general Monk was at the head of eight thouſand veterans in Scotland, and beheld the diſtraction of his native country, with but ſlender hopes of relieving it.

Whatever might have been his deſigns, it was impoſſible to cover them with greater ſecrecy than he did. As ſoon as he put his army into motion, to enquire into the cauſes of the diſturbances in the capital, his countenance was eagerly ſought by all the contending parties. He ſtill however continued to [Page 238] march his army towards the capital; all the world equally in doubt as to his motives, and aſtoniſhed at his reſerve. But Monk continued his inflexible taciturnity, and at laſt came to St. Alban's, within a few miles of London.

He there ſent the Rump parliament, who had reſumed their ſeats, a meſſage, deſiring them to remove ſuch forces as remained in London to country quarters. In the mean time the Houſe of commons having paſſed votes for the compoſure of the kingdom, diſſolved themſelves, and gave orders for the immediate aſſembling a new parliament.

[Note: A. D. 1660.]As yet the new parliament was not aſſembled, and no perſon had hitherto dived into the deſigns of the general. He ſtill perſevered in his reſerve; and although the calling a new parliament was but, in other words, to reſtore the king, yet his expreſſions never once betrayed the ſecret of his boſom. Nothing but a ſecurity of confidence at laſt extorted the confeſſion from him. He had been intimate with one Morrice, a gentleman of Devonſhire, of a ſedentary ſtudious diſpoſition, and with him alone did he deliberate upon the great and dangerous enterprize of the reſtoration. Sir John Granville, who had a commiſſion from the king, applied for acceſs to the general; he he was deſired to communicate his buſineſs to Morrice. Granville refuſed, though twice urged, to deliver his meſſage to any but the general himſelf; ſo that Monk now finding he could depend upon this miniſter's ſecrecy, he opened to him his whole intentions; but with his uſual caution ſtill ſcrupled to commit any thing to paper. In conſequence of theſe the king left the Spaniſh territories, where he very narrowly eſcaped being detained at Breda by the governor, under pretence of treating him with proper reſpect and formality. From thence he retired into Holland, where he reſolved to wait for further advice.

[Page 239] At length the long expected day for the ſitting of a free parliament arrived. The affections of all were turned towards the king; yet ſuch were their fears, and ſuch dangers attended a freedom of ſpeech, that no one dared for ſome days to make any mention of his name. All this time Monk, with his uſual reſerve, tried their tempers, and examined the ardour of their wiſhes; at length he gave directions to Anneſley, preſident of the council, to inform them that one Sir John Granville, a ſervant of the king, had been ſent over by his majeſty, and was now at the door with a letter to the commons.

Nothing could exceed the joy and tranſport with which this meſſage was received. The members for a moment forgot the dignity of their ſituations, and indulged in a loud exclamation of applauſe. Granville was called in, and the letter eagerly read. A moment's pauſe was ſcarce allowed; all at once the houſe burſt out into an univerſal aſſent at the king's propoſals; and to diffuſe the joy more widely, it was voted that the letter and indemnity ſhould immediately be publiſhed.

Charles II. entered London on the twenty-ninth of May, which was his birth-day. An innumerable concourſe of people lined the way wherever he paſſed, and rent the air with their acclamations. They had been ſo long diſtracted by unrelenting factions, oppreſſed and alarmed by a ſucceſſion of tyrannies, that they could no longer ſuppreſs theſe emotions of delight to behold their conſtitution reſtored; or rather, like a phoenix, appearing more beautiful and vigorous from the ruins of its former conflagration.

Fanaticiſm, with its long train of gloomy terrors, fled at the approach of freedom; the arts of ſociety and peace began to return; and it had been happy for the people if the arts of luxury had not entered in their train.


[Page 240]

WHEN Charles came to the throne he was thirty years of age, poſſeſſed of an agreeable perſon, an elegant addreſs, and an engaging manner. His whole demeanour and behaviour was well calculated to ſupport and encreaſe popularity. Accuſtomed during his exile, to live chearfully among his courtiers, he carried the ſame endearing familiarities to the throne, and from the levity of his temper▪ no injuries were dreaded from his former reſentments. But it was ſoon found that all theſe advantages were merely ſuperficial. His indolence and love of pleaſure made him averſe to all kinds of buſineſs; his familiarities were proſtituted to the worſt as well as the beſt of his ſubjects; and he took no care to reward his former friends, as he had taken few ſteps to be avenged of his former enemies.

Though an act of indemnity was paſſed, thoſe who had an immediate hand in the king's death were excepted. Cromwell, Ireton, and Bradſhaw, though dead, were conſidered as proper objects of reſentment; their bodies were dug from their graves, dragged to the place of execution, and, after hanging ſome time, buried under the gallows. Of the reſt, who ſat in judgment on the late monarch's trial, ſome were dead, and ſome were thought worthy of pardon. Ten only, out of fourſcore, were devoted to immediate deſtruction. Theſe were enthuſiaſts, who had all along acted from principle, and who, in the general ſpirit of rage excited againſt them, ſhewed a fortitude that might do honour to a better cauſe.

[Page 241] This was the time for the king to have made himſelf independent of all parliaments; and it is ſaid that Southampton, one of his miniſters, had thought of procuring his maſter from the commons the grant of a revenue of two millions a year, which would effectually render him abſolute; but in this his views were obſtructed by the great Clarendon, who, tho' attached to the king, was ſtill more the friend of liberty and the laws. Charles, however, was no way intereſted in theſe oppoſite views of his miniſters; he only deſired money, in order to proſecute his pleaſures; and provided he had that, he little regarded the manner in which it was obtained.

His continual exigencies drove him conſtantly to meaſures no way ſuited to his inclination. Among others, was his marriage, celebrated at this time with Catharine, the Infanta of Portugal, who, though a virtuous princeſs, poſſeſſed as it ſhould ſeem but few perſonal attractions. It was the portion of this princeſs that the needy monarch was enamoured of, which amounted to three hundred thouſand pounds, together with the fortreſs of Tangier in Africa, and of Bombay in the Eaſt Indies. The chancellor Clarendon, the dukes of Ormond and Southampton, urged many reaſons againſt this match, particularly the likelihood of her never having any children; the king diſregarded their advice, and the inauſpicious marriage was celebrated accordingly.

It was probably with a view of recruiting the ſupply for his pleaſures, that he was induced to declare war againſt the Dutch, as the money appointed for that purpoſe would go thro' his hands. In this naval war, which continued to rage for ſome years, with great fierceneſs, much blood was ſpilt, and great treaſures exhauſted, until at laſt a treaty was concluded at Breda, by which the colony of New York was ceded by the Dutch to the Engliſh, and has continued a moſt valuable acquiſition to the preſent time.

[Page 242] This treaty was conſidered as inglorious to the Engliſh, as they failed in gaining any redreſs upon the complaints which gave riſe to it. Lord Clarendon, particularly, gained a ſhare of blame, both for having firſt adviſed an unneceſſary war, and then for concluding a diſgraceful peace. He had been long declining in the king's favour, and he was no leſs diſpleaſing to the majority of the people.

This ſeemed the ſignal for the earl's enemies to ſtep in, and effect his entire overthrow. A charge was opened againſt him in the houſe of commons by Mr. Seymour, conſiſting of ſeventeen articles. Theſe, which were only a catalogue of the popular rumours before-mentioned, appeared at firſt ſight falſe or frivolous. However, Clarendon finding the popular torrent, united to the violence of power, running with impetuoſity againſt him, thought proper to withdraw to France.

Having thus got rid of his virtuous miniſter, the king ſoon after reſigned himſelf to the direction of a ſet of men who afterwards went by the appellation of the Cabal, from the initials of the names of which it was compoſed.

The firſt of them, Sir Thomas Clifford, was a man of a daring and impetuous ſpirit, rendered more dangerous by eloquence and intrigue. Lord Aſhley, ſoon after known by the name of lord Shafteſbury, was turbulent, ambitious, ſubtle, and enterpriſing. The duke of Buckingham was gay, capricious, of ſome wit, and great vivacity. Arlington was a man but of very moderate capacity, his intentions were good, but he wanted courage to perſevere in them. Laſtly, the duke of Lauderdale, who was not defective in natural, and ſtill leſs in acquired talents; but neither was his addreſs graceful, nor his underſtanding juſt; he was ambitious, obſtinate, [Note: A. D. 1670.] inſolent, and ſullen. Theſe were the men to whom Charles gave up the conduct of his affairs, and who plunged [Page 243] the remaining part of his reign in diffi [...]ulties, which produced the moſt dangerous ſymptoms.

From this inauſpicious combination the people had entertained violent jealouſies againſt the court. The fears and diſcontents of the nation were vented without reſtraint; the apprehenſions of a popiſh ſucceſſor, an abandoned court, and a parliament which, though ſometimes aſſertors of liberty, yet which had now continued for ſeventeen years without change, naturally rendered the minds of mankind timid and ſuſpicious, and they only wanted objects on which to wreak their ill humour.

When the ſpirit of the Engliſh is once rouſed, they either find objects of ſuſpicion or make them. On the twelfth of Auguſt, one Kirby, a chemiſt, accoſted the king as he was walking in the Park. ‘"Sir, ſaid he, keep within the company, your enemies have a deſign upon your life, and you may be ſhot in this very walk."’ Being queſtioned in conſequence of this ſtrange intimation, he offered to produce one doctor Tongue, a weak credulous clergyman, who had told him, that two perſons, named Grove and Pickering, were engaged to murder the king; and that Sir George Wakeman, the queen's phyſician, had undertaken the ſame taſk by poiſon. Tongue was introduced to the king with a bundle of papers relating to this pretended conſpiracy, and was referred to the lord treaſurer Danby. He there declared that the papers were thruſt under his door; and he afterwards declared, that he knew the author of them, who deſired that his name might be concealed, as he dreaded the reſentment of the Jeſuits.

This information appeared ſo vague and unſatisfactory, that the king concluded the whole was a fiction. However, Tongue was not to be repreſſed in the ardour of his loyalty; he went again to the lord treaſurer, and told him, that a pacquet of letters, [Page 244] written by Jeſuits concerned in the plot, was that night to be put into the poſt-houſe for Windſor, directed to one Bedingfield, a Jeſuit, who was confeſſor to the duke of York, and who reſided there. Theſe letters had actually been received a few hours before by the duke; but he had ſhewn them to the king as a forgery, of which he neither knew the drift nor the meaning.

Titus Oates, who was the fountain of all this dreadful intelligence, was produced ſoon after, who, with ſeeming reluctance, came to give his evidence. This Titus Oates was an abandoned miſcreant, obſcure, illiterate, vulgar, and indigent. He had been once indicted for perjury, was afterwards chaplain on board a man of war, and diſmiſſed for unnatural practices. He then profeſſed himſelf a Roman catholic, and croſſed the ſea to St. Omer's, where he was for ſome time maintained in the Engliſh ſeminary of that city. At a time that he was ſuppoſed to have been entruſted with a ſecret involving the fate of kings, he was allowed to remain in ſuch neceſſity, that Kirby was obliged to ſupply him with daily bread.

He had two methods to proceed, either to ingratiate himſelf by this information with the miniſtry, or to alarm the people, and thus turn their fears to his advantage. He choſe the latter method. He went, therefore, with his two companions to Sir Edmondſbury Godfrey, a noted and active juſtice of peace, and before him depoſed to a narrative dreſſed up in terrors fit to make an impreſſion on the vulgar. The pope, he ſaid, conſidered himſelf as entitled to the poſſeſſion of England and Ireland, on account of the hereſy of the prince and people, and had accordingly aſſumed the ſovereignty of theſe kingdoms. The king, whom the Jeſuits called the Black Baſtard, was ſolemnly tried by them, and condemned as an heretic. Grove and Pickering, to make ſure work, [Page 245] were employed to ſhoot the king, and that too with ſilver bullets. The duke of York was to be offered the crown in conſequence of the ſucceſs of theſe probable ſchemes, on condition of extirpating the proteſtant religion. Upon his refuſal, ‘"To pot James muſt go,"’ as the Jeſuits were ſaid to expreſs it.

In conſequence of this dreadful information, ſufficiently marked with abſurdity, vulgarity, and contradiction, Titus Oates became the favourite of the people, notwithſtanding during his examination before the council, he ſo betrayed the groſſneſs of his impoſtures, that he contradicted himſelf in every ſtep of his narration.

A great number of the Jeſuits mentioned by Oates were immediately taken into cuſtody. Coleman, ſecretary to the duke of York, who was ſaid to have acted ſo ſtrenuous a part in the conſpiracy, at firſt retired; but next day ſurrendered himſelf to the ſecretary of ſtate, and ſome of his papers, by Oates's directions, were ſecured.

In this fluctuation of paſſions, an accident ſerved to confirm the prejudices of the people, and to put it beyond a doubt that Oates's narrative was nothing but the truth. Sir Edmondſbury Godfrey, who had been ſo active in unravelling the whole miſtery of the popiſh machinations, after having been miſſing ſome days, was found dead in a ditch by Primroſe-hill in the way to Hampſtead. The cauſe of his death remains, and muſt ſtill continue, a ſecret; but the people, already enraged againſt the papiſts, did not heſitate a moment to aſcribe it to them. The body of Godfrey was carried through the ſtreets in proceſſion, preceded by ſeventy clergymen; and every one who ſaw it made no doubt that his death could be only cauſed by the papiſts. Even the better ſort of people were infected with this vulgar prejudice; and ſuch was the general conviction of popiſh guilt, that no [Page 246] perſon, with any regard to perſonal ſafety, could expreſs the leaſt doubt concerning the information of Oates, or the murder of Godfrey.

In order to continue and propagate the alarm, the parliament affected to believe it true. An addreſs was voted for a ſolemn faſt. It was requeſted that all papers tending to throw light upon ſo horrible a conſpiracy might be laid before the houſe, that all papiſts ſhould remove from London, that acceſs ſhould be denied at court to all unknown and ſuſpicious perſons, and that the train-bands in London and Weſtminſter ſhould be in readineſs to march. Oates was recommended by parliament to the king. He was lodged in Whitehall, and encouraged by a penſion of twelve hundred pounds a year to proceed in forging new informations.

The encouragement given to Oates did not fail to bring in others alſo, who hoped to profit by the deluſion of the times. William Bedloe, a man, if poſſible, more infamous than Oates, appeared next upon the ſtage. He was, like the former, of very low birth, had been noted for ſeveral cheats and thefts. This man, at his own deſire, was arreſted at Briſtol, and conveyed to London, where he declared before the council that he had ſeen the body of Sir Edmonſbury Godfrey at Somerſet-houſe, where the queen lived. He ſaid that a ſervant of lord Bellaſis offered to give him four thouſand pounds if he would carry it off, and finding all his information greedily received, he confimed and heightened Oates's plot with aggravated horrors.

Thus encouraged by the general voice in their favour, the witneſſes, who all along had enlarged their narratives, in proportion as they were eagerly received, went a ſtep farther, and ventured to accuſe the queen. The commons, in an addreſs to the king, gave countenance to this ſcandalous accuſation; the lords rejected it with becoming diſdain.

[Page 247] Edward Coleman, ſecretary to the duke of York, was the firſt who was brought to trial, as being moſt obnoxious to thoſe who pretended to fear the introduction of popery. Bedloe ſwore that he had received a commiſſion, ſigned by the ſuperior of the Jeſuits, appointing him papal ſecretary of ſtate, and that he had conſented to the king's aſſaſſination. After this unfortunate man's ſentence, thus procured by theſe vipers, many members of both houſes offered to interpoſe in his behalf, if he would make an ample confeſſion; but as he was, in reality, poſſeſſed of no treaſonable ſecrets, he would not procure life by falſehood and impoſture. He ſuffered with calmneſs and conſtancy, and to the laſt perſiſted in the ſtrongeſt proteſtations of his innocence.

The trial of Coleman was ſucceeded by thoſe of Ireland, Pickering, and Grove. They proteſted their innocence, but were ſound guilty. Theſe unhappy men went to execution, proteſting their innocence, a circumſtance which made no impreſſion on the ſpectators; their being Jeſuits baniſhed even pity from their ſufferings.

Hill, Green, and Berry, were tried upon the evidence of one Miles Prance, for the murder of Godfrey, but though Bedloe's narrative, and Prance's information, were totally irreconcileable, and though their teſtimony was invalidated by contrary evidence, all was in vain, the priſoners were condemned and executed. They all denied their guilt at execution; and as Berry died a proteſtant, this circumſtance was regarded as very conſiderable.

Whitebread, provincial of the Jeſui [...]s, Fenwick, Gavan, Turner, and Harcourt, all of them of the ſame order, were brought to their trial; and Langhorne ſoon after. Beſides Oates and Bedloe, Dugdale, a new witneſs, appeared againſt the priſoners. This man ſpread the alarm ſtill farther, and even aſſerted, that two hundred thouſand papiſts in [Page 248] England were ready to take arms. The priſoners proved, by ſixteen witneſſes from St. Omers, that Oates was in that ſeminary at the time he ſwore he was in London. But as they were papiſts, their teſtimony could gain no manner of credit. All pleas availed them nothing; both the Jeſuits and Langborne were condemned and executed, with their laſt breath denying the crimes for which they died.

The informers had leſs ſucceſs on the trial of Sir George Wakeman, the queen's phyſician, who, tho' they ſwore with their uſual animoſity, was acquitted. His condemnation would have involved the queen in his guilt; and it is probable the judge and jury were afraid of venturing ſo far.

The earl of Stafford, near two years after, was the laſt man that fell a ſacrifice to theſe bloody wretches; the witneſſes produced againſt him were Oates, Dugdale, and Tuberville. Oates ſwore that he ſaw Fenwick, the Jeſuit, deliver Stafford a commiſſion from the general of the Jeſuits, conſtituting him pay-maſter of the papal army. The clamour and outrage of the populace againſt the priſoner was very great; he was found guilty, and condemned to be hanged and quartered; but the king changed the ſentence into that of beheading. He was executed on Tower-hill, where even his perſecutors could not forbear ſhedding tears at that ſerene fortitude which ſhone in every feature, motion, and accent of this aged nobleman.

This parliament having continued to ſit for ſeventeen years without interruption, wherefore a new one was called, in which was paſſed the celebrated ſtatute, called the Habeas Corpus act, which confirms the ſubject in an abſolute ſecurity from oppreſſive power. By this act it was prohibited to ſend any one to priſons beyond the ſea: no judge, under ſevere penalties, was to refuſe to any priſoner his writ of habeas corpus; by which the goaler was [Page 249] to produce in court the body of the priſoner, whence the writ had its name, and to certify the cauſe of his detainer and impriſonment. If the goal lie within twenty miles of the judge, the writ muſt be obeyed in three days, and ſo proportionably for greater diſtances. Every priſoner muſt be indicted the firſt term of his commitment, and brought to trial the ſubſequent term. And no man after being enlarged by court, can be recommitted for the ſame offence.

The Meal-Tub Plot, as it was called, ſoon followed the former. One Dangerfield, more infamous, if poſſible, than Oates and Bedloe, a wretch who had been ſet in the pillory, ſcourged, branded, and tranſported for felony and coming, hatched a plot in conjunction with a midwife, whoſe name was Cellier, a Roman catholic, of abandoned character. Dangerfield began by declaring, that there was a deſign on foot to ſet up a new form of government, and remove the king and the royal family. He communicated this intelligence to the king and the duke of York, who ſupplied him with money, and countenanced his diſcovery. He hid ſome ſeditious papers in the lodgings of one colonel Manſel; and then brought the cuſtom-houſe officers to his apartment, to ſearch for ſmuggled merchandize. The papers were found, and the council having examined the affair, concluded they were ſorged by Dangerfield. They ordered all the places he frequented to be ſearched; and in the houſe of Cellier, the whole ſcheme of the conſpiracy was diſcovered upon paper, concealed in a meal-tub, from whence the plot had its name. Dangerfield being committed to Newgate, made an ample confeſſion of the forgery, which, though probably entirely of his own contrivance, he aſcribed to the earl of Caſtlemain, the counteſs of Powis, and the five lords in the Tower. He ſaid that the deſign was to ſuborn witneſſes to prove a [Page 250] charge of ſodomy and perjury upon Oates, to aſſaſſinate the earl of Shafteſbury, to accuſe the dukes of Monmouth and Buckingham, the earls of Eſſex, Hallifax and others, of having been concerned in the conſpiracy againſt the king and his brother. Upon this information, the earl of Caſtlemain and the counteſs of Powis were ſent to the Tower, and the king himſelf was ſuſpected of encouraging this impoſture.

The chief point which the preſent houſe of commons laboured to obtain, was the Excluſion Bill, which, though the former houſe had voted, was never paſſed into a law. Shafteſbury, and many conſiderable men of the party, had rendered themſelves ſo obnoxious to the duke of York, that they could find ſafety in no meaſure but his ruin. Monmouth's friends hoped that the excluſion of James would make room for their own patron. The duke of York's profeſſed bigotry to the catholic ſuperſtition influenced numbers; and his tyrannies, which were practiſed without controul, while he contined in Scotland, rendered his name odious to thouſands. In a week, therefore, after the commencement of the ſeſſions, a motion was made for bringing in a bill, for excluding him from the ſucceſſion to the throne; and a committee was appointed for that purpoſe. The debates were carried on with great violence on both ſides. The king was preſent during the whole debate; and had the pleaſure of ſeeing the bill thrown out by a very great majority.

Each party had now for ſome time reviled and ridiculed each other in pamphlets and libels; and this practice, at laſt, was attended with an incident that deſerves notice. One Fitzharris, an Iriſh papiſt, dependent on the dutcheſs of Portſmouth, one of the king's miſtreſſes, uſed to ſupply her with theſe occaſional publications. But he was reſolved to add to their number by his own endeavours; and employed [Page 251] one Everhard, a Scotchman, to write a libel againſt the king and the duke of York. The Scot was actually a ſpy for the oppoſite party; and ſuppoſing this a trick to entrap him, he diſcovered the whole to Sir William Waller, an eminent juſtice of peace; and to convince him of the truth of his information, poſted him, and two other perſons, privately, where they heard the whole conference between Fitzharris and himſelf. The libel compoſed between them was replete with the utmoſt rancour and ſcurrility. Waller carried the intelligence to the king, and obtained a warrant for committing Fitzharris, who happened at that very time to have a copy of the libel in his pocket. Seeing himſelf in the hands of a party, from which he expected no mercy, he reſolved to ſide with them, and throw the odium of the libel upon the court, who, he ſaid, were willing to draw up a libel, which ſhould be imputed to the excluſioners, and thus render them hateful to the people. He enhanced his ſervices with the country party, by a new popiſh plot, ſtill more tremendous than any of the foregoing. He brought in the duke of York as a principal accomplice in this plot, and as a contriver in the murder of Sir Edmondſbury Godfrey.

The king impriſoned Fitzharris; the commons avowed his cauſe. They voted that he ſhould be impeached by themſelves, to ſcreen him from the ordinary forms of juſtice; the lords rejected the impeachment; the commons aſſerted their right; a commotion was likely to enſue; and the king, to break off the conteſt, went to the houſe, and diſſolved the parliament, with a fixed reſolution never to call another.

This vigorous meaſure was a blow that the parliament had never expected; and nothing but the neceſſity of the times could have juſtified the king's manner of proceeding. From that moment, which [Page 252] ended the parliamentary commotions, Charles ſeemed to rule with deſpotic power; and he was reſolved to leave the ſucceſſion to his brother, but clogged with all the faults and misfortunes of his own adminiſtration. His temper, which had always been eaſy and merciful, now became arbitrary, and even cruel; he entertained ſpies and informers round the throne, and impriſoned all ſuch as he thought moſt daring in their deſigns.

He reſolved to humble the preſbyterians; theſe were diveſted of their employments and their places; and their offices given to ſuch as held with the court, and approved the doctrine of non-reſiſtance. The clergy began to teſtify their zeal and their principles by their writings and their ſermons; but though among theſe the partizans of the king were the moſt numerous, thoſe of the oppoſite faction were the moſt enterprizing. The king openly eſpouſed the cauſe of the former; and thus placing himſelf at the head of a faction, he deprived the city of London, which had long headed the popular party, of their charter. It was not till after an abject ſubmiſſion that he reſtored it to them, having previouſly ſubjected the election of their magiſtrates to his immediate authority.

Terrors alſo were not wanting to confirm his new ſpecies of monarchy. Fitzharris was brought to his trial before a jury, and condemned and executed. The whole gang of ſpies, witneſſes, informers, ſuborners, which had long been encouraged and ſupported by the leading patriots, finding now that the king was entirely maſter, turned ſhort upon their ancient drivers, and offered their evidence againſt thoſe who had firſt put them in motion. The king's miniſters, with an horrid ſatisfaction, gave them countenance and encouragement: ſo that ſoon the ſame cruelties, and the ſame injuſtice, was practiſed againſt [Page 253] preſbyterian ſchemes, that had been employed againſt catholic treaſons.

The firſt perſon that fell under the diſpleaſure of the miniſtry was one Stephen College, a London joiner, who had become ſo noted for his zeal againſt popery, that he went by the name of the Proteſtant Joiner. He had attended the city members to Oxford, armed with ſword and piſtol; he had ſometimes been heard to ſpeak irreverently of the king, and was now preſented by the grand jury of London as guilty of ſedition. A jury at Oxford, after half an hour's deliberation, brought him in guilty, and the ſpectators teſtified their inhuman pleaſure with a ſhout of applauſe. He bore his fate with unſhaken fortitude; and at the place of execution denied the crime for which he had been condemned.

The power of the crown by this time became irreſiſtible, [Note: A. D. 1683.] the city of London having been deprived of th [...]ir charter, which was reſtored only upon terms of ſubmiſſion, and the giving up the nomination of their own magiſtrates was ſo mortifying a circumſtance, that all the other corporations in England ſoon began to fear the ſame treatment, and were ſucceſſively induced to ſurrender their charters into the hands of the king. Conſiderable ſums were exacted for reſtoring theſe charters; and all the offices of power and profit were left at the diſpoſal of the crown. Reſiſtance now, however juſtifiable, could not be ſafe; and all prudent men ſaw no other expedient, but peaceably ſubmitting to the preſent grievances. But there was a party in England that ſtill cheriſhed their former ideas of freedom, and were reſolved to hazard every danger in its defence.

The duke of Monmouth, the king's natural ſon by Mrs. Waters, engaged the earl of Macclesfield, lord Brandon, ſir Gilbert Gerrard, and other gentlemen in Cheſhire in his cauſe. Lord Ruſſel fixed [Page 254] a correſpondence with Sir William Courtney, Sir Francis Rowles, and Sir Francis Drake, who promiſed to raiſe the Weſt. Shafteſbury, with one Ferguſon, an independent clergyman, and a reſtleſs plotter, managed the city, upon which the confederates chiefly relied. It was now that this turbulent man found his ſchemes moſt likely to take effect. After the diſappointment and deſtruction of an hundred plots, he at laſt began to be ſure of this. But this ſcheme, like all the former, was diſappointed. The caution of lord Ruſſel, who induced the duke of Monmouth to put off the enterprize, ſaved the kingdom from the horrors of a civil war; while Shafteſbury was ſo ſtruck with a ſenſe of his impending danger that he left his houſe, and lurking about the city attempted, but in vain, to drive the Londoners into open inſurrection. At laſt, enraged at the numberleſs cautions and delays which clogged and defeated his projects, he threatened to begin with his friends alone. However, after a long ſtruggle between fear and rage, he abandoned all hopes of ſucceſs, and fled out of the kingdom to Amſterdam, where he ended his turbulent life ſoon after, without being pitied by his friends, or feared by his enemies.

The loſs of Shafteſbury, though it retarded the views of the conſpirators, did not ſuppreſs them. A council of ſix was erected, conſiſting of Monmouth, Ruſſel, Eſſex, Howard, Algernon Sidney, and John Hambden, grandſon to the great man of that name.

Such, together with the Duke of Argyle, were the leaders of this conſpiracy. But there was alſo a ſet of ſubordinate conſpirators, who frequently met together, and carried on projects quite unknown to Monmouth and his council. Among theſe men was colonel Rumſey, an old republican officer, together with lieutenant colonel Walcot, of the ſame ſtamp, [Page 255] Goodenough, under-ſheriff of London, a zealous and noted party man, Ferguſon, an independent miniſter, and ſeveral attornies, merchants, and tradeſmen of London. But Rumſey and Ferguſon were the only perſons that had acceſs to the great leaders of the conſpiracy. Theſe men in their meetings embraced the moſt deſperate reſolutions. They propoſed to aſſaſſinate the king in his way to Newmarket; Rumbal, one of the party, poſſeſſed a farm upon that road called the Rye-houſe, and from thence the conſpiracy was denominated the Rye-houſe Plot. They deliberated upon a ſcheme of ſtopping the king's coach by overturning a cart on the highway at this place, and ſhooting him through the hedges. The houſe in which the king lived at Newmarket took fire accidentally, and he was obliged to leave Newmarket eight days ſooner than was expected, to which circumſtance his ſafety was aſcribed.

Among the conſpirators was one Keiling, who, finding himſelf in danger of a proſecution for arreſting the lord mayor of London, reſolved to earn his pardon by diſcovering this plot to the miniſtry. Colonel Rumſey, and Weſt, a lawyer, no ſooner underſtood that this man had informed againſt them, than they agreed to ſave their lives by turning king's evidence, and they ſurrendered themſelves accordingly. Monmouth abſconded; Ruſſel was ſent to the Tower; Grey eſcaped; Howard was taken concealed in a chimney; Eſſex, Sidney, and Hambden, were ſoon after arreſted, and had the mortification to find lord Howard an evidence againſt them.

Walcot was firſt brought to trial and condemned, together with Hone and Rouſe, two aſſociates in the conſpiracy, upon the evidence of Rumſey, Weſt, and Sheppard. They died penitent, acknowledging the juſtice of the ſentence by which they were executed. A much greater ſacrifice was ſhortly after to follow. This was the lord Ruſſel, ſon of the earl of [Page 256] Bedford, a nobleman of numberleſs good qualities, and led into this conſpiracy from a conviction of the duke of York's intentions to reſtore popery. He was liberal, popular, humane, and brave. All his virtues were ſo many crimes in the preſent ſuſpicious diſpoſition of the court. The chief evidence againſt him was lord Howard, a man of very bad character, one of the conſpirators, who was now contented to take life upon ſuch terms, and to accept of infamous ſafety. This witneſs ſwore that Ruſſel was engaged in the deſign of an inſurrection; but he acquitted him, as did alſo Rumſey and Weſt, of being privy to the aſſaſſination. The jury, who were zealous royaliſts, after a ſhort deliberation, brought the priſoner in guilty, and he was condemned to ſuffer beheading. The ſcaffold for his execution was erected in Lincoln's-inn-fields; he laid his head on the block without the leaſt change of countenance, and at two ſtrokes it was ſevered from his body.

The celebrated Algernon Sidney, ſon to the earl of Leiceſter, was next brought to his trial. He had been formerly engaged in the parliamentary army againſt the late king, and was even named on the high court of juſtice that tried him, but had not taken his ſeat among the judges. He had ever oppoſed Cromwell's uſurpation, and went into voluntary baniſhment upon the reſtoration. His affairs, however, requiring his return, he applied to the king for a pardon, and obtained his requeſt. But all his hopes and all his reaſonings were formed upon republican principles. For his adored republic he had written and fought, and went into baniſhment, and ventured to return. It may eaſily be conceived how obnoxious a man of ſuch principles was to a court that now was not even content with limitations to its power. They went ſo far as to take illegal methods to procure his condemnation. The only witneſs that depoſed againſt Sidney was lord Howard, [Page 257] and the law required two. In order, therefore, to make out a ſecond witneſs, they had recourſe to a very extraordinary expedient. In ranſacking his cloſet ſome diſcourſes on government were found in his own hand-writing, containing principles favourable to liberty, and in themſelves no way ſubverſive of a limited government. By overſtraining ſome of theſe they were conſtrued into treaſon. It was in vain he alledged that papers were no evidence; that it could not be proved they were written by him; that, if proved, the papers themſelves contained nothing criminal. His defence was over-ruled; the violent and inhuman Jefferies, who was now chief-juſtice, eaſily prevailed on a partial jury to bring him in guilty, and his execution followed ſoon after. One can ſcarce contemplate the tranſactions of this reign without horror. Such a picture of factious guilt on each ſide, a court at once immerſed in ſenſuality and blood, a people armed againſt each other with the moſt deadly animoſity, and no ſingle party to be found with ſenſe enough to ſtem the general torrent of rancour and factious ſuſpicion.

Hambden was tried ſoon after; and as there was nothing to affect his life, he was ſined forty thouſand pounds. Holloway, a merchant of Briſtol, who had fled to the Weſt-Indies, was brought over, condemned, and executed. Sir Thomas Armſtrong alſo, who had fled to Holland, was brought over, and ſhared the ſame fate. Lord Eſſex, who had been impriſoned in the Power, was found in an apartment with his throat cut; but whether he was guilty of ſuicide, or whether the bigotry of the times might not have induced ſome aſſaſſin to commit the crime, cannot now be known.

This was the laſt blood that was ſhed for an imputation of plots or conſpiracies, which continued during the greateſt part of this reign.

[Page 258] At this period the government of Charles was as abſolute as that of any monarch in Europe; but happily for mankind his tyranny was of but ſhort duration. The king was ſeized with a ſudden fit, which reſembled an apoplexy; and though he was recovered by bleeding, yet he languiſhed only for a few days, and then expired, in the fifty ninth year of his age, and the twenty-fifth of his reign. During his illneſs ſome clergymen of the church of England attended him, to whom he diſcovered a total indifference. Catholic prieſts were brought to his bed-ſide, and from their hands he received the rites of their communion.


[Note: A. D. 1685.]THE duke of York, who ſucceeded his brother by the title of king James the Second, had been bred a papiſt by his mother, and was ſtrongly bigotted to his principles.

He went openly to maſs with all the enſigns of his dignity; and even ſent one Caryl as his agent to Rome to make ſubmiſſions to the pope, and to pave the way for the re-admiſſion of England into the boſom of the catholic church.

A conſpiracy, ſet on foot by the duke of Monmouth, was the firſt diſturbance in his reign. He had, ſince his laſt conſpiracy, been pardoned, but was ordered to depart the kingdom, and had retired to Holland. Being diſmiſſed from thence by the prince of Orange upon James's acceſſion, he went to Bruſſels, where finding himſelf ſtill purſued by the king's ſeverity, he reſolved to retaliate, and make an attempt [Page 259] upon the kingdom. He had ever been the darling of the people, and ſome averred that Charles had married his mother, and owned Monmouth's legitimacy at his death. The duke of Argyle ſeconded his views in Scotland, and they formed the ſcheme of a double inſurrection; ſo that while Monmouth ſhould attempt to make a riſing in the Weſt, Argyle was alſo to try his endeavours in the North.

Argyle was the firſt who landed in Scotland, where he publiſhed his manifeſtoes, [Note: A. D. 1685.] put himſelf at the head of two thouſand five hundred men, and ſtrove to influence the people in his cauſe. But a formidable body of the king's forces coming againſt him, his army fell away, and he himſelf, after being wounded in attempting to eſcape, was taken priſoner by a peaſant, who found him ſtanding up to his neck in a pool of water. He was from thence carried to Edinburgh, where, after enduring many indignities with a gallant ſpirit, he was publicly executed.

Mean while Monmouth was by this time landed in Dorſetſhire, with ſcarce an hundred followers. However his name was ſo popular, and ſo great was the hatred of the people both for the perſon and religion of James, that in four days he had aſſembled a body of above two thouſand men.

Being advanced to Taunton, his numbers had encreaſed to ſix thouſand men; and he was obliged every day, for want of arms, to diſmiſs numbers, who crowded to his ſtandard. He entered Bridgewater, Wells, and Frome, and was proclaimed in all thoſe places; but he loſt the hour of action, in receiving and claiming theſe empty honours.

The king was not a little alarmed at his invaſion; but ſtill more at the ſucceſs of an undertaking that at firſt appeared deſperate. Six regiments of Britiſh troops were called over from Holland, and a body of regulars, to the number of three thouſand men, [Page 260] were ſent, under the command of the earl of Feverſham and Churchill, to check the progreſs of the rebels. They took poſt at Sedgemore, a village in the neighbourhood of Bridgewater, and were joined by the militia of the country in conſiderable numbers. It was there that Monmouth reſolved, by a deſperate effort, to loſe his life or gain the kingdom. The negligent diſpoſition made by Feverſham invited him to the attack; and his faithful followers ſhewed what courage and principle could do againſt diſcipline and ſuperior numbers. They drove the royal infantry from their ground, and were upon the point of gaining the victory, when the miſconduct of Monmouth, and the cowardice of lord Gray, who commanded the horſe, brought all to ruin. This nobleman fled at the firſt onſet; and the rebels being charged in flank by the victorious army, gave way, after a three hours conteſt. About three hundred were killed in the engagement, and a thouſand in the purſuit; and thus ended an enterprize, raſhly begun, and more feebly conducted.

Monmouth fled from the field of battle above twenty miles, till his horſe ſunk under him. He then alighted, and, exchanging cloaths with a ſhepherd, fled on foot, attended by a German count, who had accompanied him from Holland. Being quite exhauſted with hunger and fatigue, they both lay down in a field, and covered themſelves with fern. The ſhepherd being found in Monmouth's cloaths by the purſuers encreaſed the diligence of the ſearch; and, by the means of blood hounds, he was detected in his miſerable ſituation, with raw peaſe in pocket, which he had gathered in the fields to ſuſtain life. He burſt into tears when ſeized by his enemies; and petitioned, with the moſt abject ſubmiſſion, for life. He wrote the moſt ſubmiſſive letters to the king; and that monarch, willing to feaſt his eyes with the miſeries of a fallen enemy, [Page 261] gave him an audience. At this interview the duke fell upon his knees, and begged his life in the moſt abject terms. He even ſigned a paper, offered him by the king, declaring his own illegitimacy; and then the ſtern tyrant aſſured him, that his crime was of ſuch a nature as could not be pardoned. The duke perceiving that he had nothing to hope from the clemency of his uncle, recollected his ſpirits, roſe up, and retired with an air of diſdain. He was followed to the ſcaffold with great compaſſion from the populace. He warned the executioner not to fall into the ſame error which he had committed in beheading Ruſſel, where it had been neceſſary to redouble the blow. But this only encreaſed the ſeverity of his puniſhment, the man was ſeized with an univerſal trepidation; and he ſtruck a feeble blow, upon which the duke raiſed his head from the block, as if to reproach him; he gently laid down his head a ſecond time, and the executioner ſtruck him again and again to no purpoſe. He at laſt threw the ax down; but the ſheriff compelled him to reſume the attempt, and at two blows more the head was ſevered from the body. Such was the end of James, duke of Monmouth, the darling of the Engliſh people. He was brave, ſincere, and good natured, open to flattery, and by that ſeduced into an enterprize which exceeded his capacity.

But it were well for the inſurgents, and fortunate for the king, if the blood that was now ſhed had been thought a ſufficient expiation for the late offence. The victorious army behaved with the moſt ſavage cruelty to the priſoners taken after the battle. Feverſham immediately after the victory hanged up above twenty priſoners.

The military ſeverities of the commanders were ſtill inferior to the legal ſlaughters committed by judge Jefferies, who was ſent down to try the delinquents. The natural brutality of this man's temper [Page 262] was enflamed by continual intoxication. He told the priſoners, that if they would ſave him the trouble of trying them, they might expect ſome favour, otherwiſe he would execute the law upon them with [...]he utmoſt ſeverity. Many poor wretches were thus allured into a confeſſion, and found that it only haſtened their deſtruction. No leſs than eighty were executed at Dorcheſter; and, on the whole, at Exeter, Taunton, and Wells, two hundred and fifty-one are computed to have fallen by the hand of juſtice.

In eccleſiaſtical matters, James proceeded with ſtill greater injuſtice. Among thoſe who diſtinguiſhed themſelves againſt popery, was one doctor Sharpe, a clergyman of London, who declaimed with juſt ſeverity againſt thoſe who had changed their religion, by ſuch arguments as the popiſh miſſionaries were able to produce. This being ſuppoſed to reflect upon the king, gave great offence at court; and poſitive orders were given to the biſhop of London to ſuſpend Sharpe till his majeſty's pleaſure ſhould be farther known. The biſhop refuſed to comply; and the king reſolved to puniſh the biſhop himſelf for diſobedience.

To effect his deſigns, an eccleſiaſtical commiſſion was iſſued out, by which ſeven commiſſioners were inveſted with a full and unlimited authority over the whole church of England. Before this tribunal the biſhop was ſummoned, and not only he, but Sharpe, the preacher, were ſuſpended.

The next ſtep was to allow a liberty of conſcience to all ſectaries; and he was taught to believe that the truth of the catholic religion would then, upon a fair trial, gain the victory. He therefore iſſued a declaration of general indulgence, and aſſerted that non-conformity to the eſtabliſhed religion was no longer penal.

[Page 263] To complete his work he publicly ſent the earl of Caſtlemaine ambaſſador extraordinary to Rome, in order to expreſs his obedience to the pope, and to reconcile his kingdoms to the catholic communion. Never was there ſo much contempt thrown upon an embaſſy that was ſo boldly undertaken. The court of Rome expected but little ſucceſs from meaſures ſo blindly conducted. They were ſenſible that the king was openly ſtriking at thoſe laws and opinions which it was his buſineſs to undermine in ſilence and ſecurity.

The Jeſuits ſoon after were permitted to erect colleges in different parts of the kingdom; they exerciſed the catholic worſhip in the moſt public manner; and four catholic biſhops, conſecrated in the king's chapel, were ſent through the kingdom to exerciſe their epiſcopal functions, under the title of apoſtolic vicars.

Father Francis, a Benedictine monk, was recommended by the king to the univerſity of Cambridge, for the degree of maſter of arts. But his religion was a ſtumbling-block which the univerſity could not get over; and they preſented a petition, beſeeching the king to recal his mandate. Their petition was diſregarded, their deputies denied an hearing: the vice-chancellor himſelf was ſummoned to appear before the high commiſſion court, and deprived of his office; yet the univerſity perſiſted, and father Francis was refuſed.

The place of preſident of Magdalen college, one of the richeſt foundations in Europe, being vacant, the king ſent a mandate in favour of one Farmer, a new convert to popery, and a man of a bad character in other reſpects. The fellows of the college made very ſubmiſſive applications to the king for recalling his mandate; they refuſed admitting the candidate, and James finding them reſolute in the defence of their privileges, ejected them all except two.

[Page 264] [Note: A. D. 1688.]A ſecond declaration for liberty of conſcience was publiſhed, almoſt in the ſame terms with the former; but with this peculiar injunction, that all divines ſhould read it after ſervice in their churches. The clergy were known univerſally to diſapprove of theſe meaſures, and they were now reſolved to diſobey an order dictated by the moſt bigotted motives. They were determined to truſt their cauſe to the favour of the people, and that univerſal jealouſy which prevailed againſt the encroachments of the crown. The firſt champions on this ſervice of danger were Loyde, biſhop of St. Aſaph, Ken, of Bath and Wells, Turner, of Ely, Lake, of Chicheſter, White, of Peterborough, and Trelawney, of Briſtol; theſe, together with Sancroft, the primate, concerted an addreſs, in the form of a petition, to the king, which, with the warmeſt expreſſions of zeal and ſubmiſſion, remonſtrated that they could not read his declaration conſiſtent with their conſciences, or the reſpect they owed the proteſtant religion.

The king in a fury ſummoned the biſhops before the council, and there queſtioned them whether they would acknowledge their petition. They for ſome time declined giving an anſwer; but being urged by the chancellor, they at laſt owned it. On their refuſal to give bail, an order was immediately drawn for their commitment to the Tower, and the crown-lawyers received directions to proſecute them for a ſeditious libel.

The twenty-ninth day of June was fixed for their trial; and their return was more ſplendidly attended than their impriſonment. The cauſe was looked upon as involving the fate of the nation, and future freedom, or future ſlavery awaited the deciſion. The diſpute was learnedly managed by the lawyers on both ſides. Holloway and Powel, two of the judges, declared themſelves in favour of the biſhops. [Page 265] The jury withdrew into a chamber, where they paſſed the whole night; but next morning they returned into court, and pronounced the biſhops▪ Not guilty. Weſtminſter-Hall inſtantly rang with loud acclamations, which were communicated to the whole extent of the city. They even reached the camp at Hounſlow, where the king was at dinner, in lord Feverſham's tent. His majeſty demanding the cauſe of thoſe rejoicings, and being informed that it was nothing but the ſoldiers ſhouting at the delivery of the biſhops, ‘"Call you that nothing, cried he; but ſo much the worſe for them!"’

It was in this poſture of affairs that all people turned their eyes upon William prince of Orange, who had married Mary, the eldeſt daughter of king James.

William was a prince who had, from his earlieſt entrance into buſineſs, been immerſed in dangers, calamities, and politics. The ambition of France, and the jealouſies of Holland, had ſerved to ſharpen his talents, and to give him a propenſity to intrigue.

This politic prince now plainly ſaw that James had incurred the moſt violent hatred of his ſubjects. [Note: A. D. 1688.] He was minutely informed of their diſcontents; and, by ſeeming to diſcourage, ſtill farther encreaſed them, hoping to gain the kingdom for himſelf in the ſequel.

The time when the prince entered upon his enterprize was juſt when the people were in a flame from this recent inſult offered to their biſhops. He had before this made conſiderable augmentations to the Dutch fleet, and the ſhips were then lying ready in the harbour. Some additional troops were alſo levied, and ſums of money raiſed for other purpoſes were converted to the advancement of this expedition.

So well concerted were his meaſures, that in three days above four hundred tranſports were hired, the army fell down the rivers and canals from Nimeguen, [Page 266] with all neceſſary ſtores; and the prince ſet ſail from Helvoetſluys with a fleet of near five hundred veſſels, and an army of above fourteen thouſand men.

It was given out that this invaſion was intended for the coaſts of France, and many of the Engliſh, who ſaw the fleet paſs along their coaſts, little expected to ſee it land on their own ſhores. Thus after a voyage of two days, the prince landed his army at the village of Broxholme in Torbay, on the fifth of November, which was the anniverſary of the gun-powder treaſon.

But though the invitation from the Engliſh was very general, the prince for ſome time had the mortification to find himſelf joined by very few. He marched firſt to Exeter, where the country people had been ſo lately terrified with the executions which had enſued on Monmouth's rebellion, that they continued to obſerve a ſtrict neutrality. He remained for ten days in expectation of being joined by the malcontents, and at laſt began to deſpair of ſucceſs. But juſt when he began to deliberate about reimbarking his forces, he was joined by ſeveral perſons of conſequence, and the whole country ſoon after came flocking to his ſtandard. The nobility, clergy, officers, and even the king's own ſervants and creatures, were unanimous in deſerting James. Lord Churchill had been raiſed from the rank of a page, and had been inveſted with an high command in the army; had been created a peer, and owed his whole fortune to the king's bounty: even he deſerted among the reſt, and carried with him the duke of Grafton, natural ſon to the late king, colonel Berkely, and ſome others.

Isaac Taylor del et sculp

Published by G. Kearsley in Fleet Street as the Act directs. July 2 1774.

Figure 4. The Landing of William III.

The king, alarmed every day more and more with the proſpect of a general diſaffection, was reſolved to hearken to thoſe who adviſed his quitting the kingdom. To prepare for this he firſt ſent away the queen, who arrived ſafely at Calais, under the conduct of count Lauzun, an old favourite of the French king. He himſelf ſoon after diſappeared in the night time, attended only by Sir Edward Hales, a new convert; but was diſcovered and brought back by the mob.

But ſhortly after being confined at Rocheſter, and obſerving that he was entirely neglected by his own ſubjects, he reſolved to ſeek ſafety from the king of France, the only friend he had ſtill remaining. He accordingly fled to the ſea-ſide, attended by his natural ſon the duke of Berwick, where he embarked for the continent, and arrived in ſafety at Ambleteuſe in Picardy, from whence he haſtened to the court of France, where he ſtill enjoyed the empty title of a king, and the appellation of a ſaint, which flattered him more.

The king having thus abdicated the throne, [Note: A. D. 1689.] the next conſideration was the appointing a ſucceſſor. Some declared for a regent; others, that the princeſs of Orange ſhould be inveſted with regal power, and the young prince conſidered as ſuppoſititious. After a long debate in both houſes, a new ſovereign was preferred to a regent, by a majority of two voices. It was agreed that the prince and princeſs of Orange ſhould reign jointly as king and queen of England, while the adminiſtration of government ſhould be placed in the hands of the prince only.


[Page 268]

WILLIAM was no ſooner elected to the throne, than he began to experience the difficulty of governing a people, who were more ready to examine the commands of their ſuperiors, than to obey them.

His reign commenced with an attempt, ſimilar to that which had been the principal cauſe of all the diſturbances in the preceding reign, and which had excluded the monarch from the throne. William was a Calviniſt, and conſequently averſe to perſecution; he therefore began by attempting to repeal thoſe laws that enjoined uniformity of worſhip; and though he could not entirely ſucceed in his deſign, a toleration was granted to ſuch diſſenters as ſhould take the oaths of allegiance, and hold no private conventicles.

In the mean time James, whoſe authority was ſtill acknowledged in Ireland, embarked at Breſt for that kingdom, and on May 22 arrived at Kinſale. He ſoon after made his public entry into Dublin, amidſt the acclamations of the inhabitants. He found the appearances of things in that country equal to his moſt ſanguine expectations. Tyrconnel, the lord lieutenant, was devoted to his intereſts; his old army was ſteady, and a new one raiſed, amounting together to near forty-thouſand men.

As ſoon as the ſeaſon would permit, he went to lay ſiege to Londonderry, a town of ſmall importance in itſelf, but rendered famous by the ſtand which it made on this occaſion.

The beſieged endured the moſt poignant ſufferings from fatigue and famine, until at laſt relieved by a ſtore ſhip, that happily broke the boom laid acroſs the [Page 269] river to prevent a ſupply. The joy of the inhabitants at this unexpected relief, was only equalled by the rage and diſappointment of the beſiegers. The army of James was ſo diſpirited by the ſucceſs of this enterprize, that they abandoned the ſiege in the night; and retired with precipitation, after having loſt above nine thouſand men before the place.

It was upon the oppoſite banks of the river Boyne that both armies came in ſight of each other, [Note: A. D. 1690.] inflamed with all the animoſities ariſing from religion, hatred, and revenge. The river Boyne at this place was not ſo deep, but that men might wade over on foot; however, the banks were rugged, and rendered dangerous by old houſes and ditches, which ſerved to defend the latent enemy. William, who now headed the proteſtant army, had no ſooner arrived, but he rode along the ſide of the river, in ſight of both armies, to make proper obſervations upon the plan of battle; but in the mean time being perceived by the enemy, a cannon was privately brought out, and planted againſt him, where he was ſitting. The ſhot killed ſeveral of his followers; and he himſelf was wounded in the ſhoulder.

Early the next morning at ſix o'clock, king William gave orders to force a paſs over the river. This the army undertook in three different places; and after a furious cannonading, the battle began with unuſual vigour. The Iriſh troops, though reckoned the beſt in Europe abroad, have always ſought indifferently at home. After an obſtinate reſiſtance, they fled with precipitation; leaving the French and Swiſs regiments, who came to their aſſiſtance, to make the beſt retreat they could. William led on his horſe in perſon; and contributed, by his activity and vigilance, to ſecure the victory. James was not in the battle, but ſtood aloof, during the action, on the hill of Dunmore, [Page 270] ſurrounded with ſome ſquadrons of horſe; and at intervals was heard to exclaim, when he ſaw his own troops repulſing thoſe of the enemy, ‘"O ſpare my Engliſh ſubjects."’

The Iriſh loſt about fifteen hundred men, and the proteſtants about one third of that number. The victory was ſplendid and almoſt deciſive; but the death of the duke of Schomberg, who was ſhot as he was croſſing the water, ſeemed to outweigh the whole loſs ſuſtained by the enemy.

[Note: A. D. 1691.]The laſt battle fought in favour of James was at Aughrim. The enemy fought with ſurpriſing fury, and the horſe were ſeveral times repulſed; but the Engliſh wading through the middle of a bog up to the waſte in mud, and rallying with ſome difficulty on the firm ground on the other ſide, renewed the combat with great fury. St. Ruth, the Iriſh general, being killed by a cannon-ball, his fate ſo diſpirited his troops, that they gave way on all ſides, and retreated to Limerick, where they reſolved to make a final ſtand, after having loſt above five thouſand of the flower of their army. Limerick, the laſt retrea [...] of the Iriſh forces, made a brave defence; but ſoon ſeeing the enemy advanced within ten paces of the bridge foot, and perceiving themſelves ſurrounded on all ſides, they determined to capitulate; a negociation was immediately begun, and hoſtilities ceaſed on both ſides. The Roman catholics by this capitulation were reſtored to the enjoyment of thoſe liberties in the exerciſe of their religion, which they had poſſeſſed in the reign of king Charles the Second. All perſons were indulged with free leave to remove with their families and effects to any other country, except England and Scotland. In conſequence of this, about fourteen thouſand of thoſe who had fought for king James went over into France, having tranſports provided by government for conveying them thither.

[Page 271] James was now reduced to the loweſt ebb of deſpondence, [Note: A. D. 1692.] his deſigns upon England were quite fruſtrated, ſo that nothing was left his friends, but the hopes of aſſaſſinating the monarch on the throne. Theſe baſe attempts, as barbarous as they were uſeleſs, were not entirely diſagreeable to the temper of James. It is ſaid he encouraged and propoſed them; but they all proved unſerviceable to his cauſe, and only ended in the deſtruction of the undertakers. From that time till he died, which was about ſeven years, he continued to reſide at St. Germain's a penſioner on the bounties of Lewis, and aſſiſted by occaſional liberalities from his daughter and friends in England. He died on the ſixteenth day of September, in the year 1700, after having laboured under a tedious ſickneſs; and many miracles, as the people thought, were wrought at his tomb. Indeed the latter part of his life was calculated to inſpire the ſuperſtitious with reverence for his piety. He ſubjected himſelf to acts of uncommon penance and mortification. He frequently viſited the poor monks of La Trappe, who were edified by his humble and pious deportment. His pride and arbitrary temper ſeemed to have vaniſhed with his greatneſs; he became affable, kind, and eaſy, to all his dependents; and in his laſt illneſs conjured his ſon to prefer religion to every worldly advantage, a counſel which that prince ſtrictly obeyed. He died with great marks of devotion, and was interred, at his own requeſt, in the church of the Engliſh Benedictines at Paris, without any funeral ſolemnity.

William, upon accepting of the crown, was reſolved to preſerve, as much as he was able, that ſhare of prerogative which ſtill was left him.

But at length he became fatigued with oppoſing the laws which parliament every day were laying round his authority, and gave up the conteſt. He admitted every reſtraint upon the prerogative in England, [Page 272] upon condition of being properly ſupplied with the means of humbling the power of France. War and the balance of power in Europe, were all he knew, or indeed deſired to underſtand. Provided the parliament furniſhed him with ſupplies for theſe purpoſes, he permitted them to rule the internal polity at their pleaſure. For the proſecution of the war with France, the ſums of money granted him were incredible. The nation, not contented with furniſhing him ſuch ſums of money as they were capable of raiſing by the taxes of the year, mortgaged thoſe taxes, and involved themſelves in debts, which they have never ſince been able to diſcharge. For all that profuſion of wealth granted to maintain the imaginary balance of Europe, England received in return the empty reward of military glory in Flanders, and the conſciouſneſs of having given their allies, particularly the Dutch, frequent opportunities of being ungrateful.

[Note: A. D. 1697.]The war with France continued during the greateſt part of this king's reign; but at length the treaty of Ryſwic put an end to thoſe contentions, in which England had engaged without policy, and came off without advantage. In the general pacification, her intereſts ſeemed entirely deſerted; and for all the treaſures ſhe had ſent to the continent, and all the blood which ſhe had ſhed there, the only equivalent ſhe received was an acknowledgement of king William's title from the king of France.

William was naturally of a very feeble conſtitution; and it was by this time almoſt exhauſted, by a ſeries of continual diſquietude and action. He had endeavoured to repair his conſtitution, or at leaſt to conceal its decays, by exerciſe and riding. On the twenty-firſt day of February, in riding to Hampton-Court from Kenſington, his horſe fell under him, and he was thrown with ſuch violence, that his collar [Page 273] bone was fractured. His attendants conveyed him to the palace of Hampton court, where the fracture was reduced, and in the evening he returned to Kenſington in his coach. The jolting of the carriage diſunited the fracture once more; and the bones were again replaced, under Bidloo his phyſician. This in a robuſt conſtitution would have been a trifling misfortune; but in him it was fatal. For ſome time he appeared in a fair way of recovery; but falling aſleep on his couch, he was ſeized with a ſhivering, which terminated in a fever asid diarrhoea, which ſoon became dangerous and deſperate. Perceiving his end approaching, the objects of his former care lay ſtill next his heart; and the fate of Europe ſeemed to remove the ſenſations he might be ſuppoſed to feel for his own. The earl of Albermarle arriving from Holland, he conferred with him in private on the po [...]ure of affairs abroad. Two days after having received the ſacrament from archbiſhop Teniſon, he expired in the fifty-ſecond of his age, after having reigned thirteen years.


ANNE, married to prince George of Denmark, aſcended the throne in the thirty-eighth year of her age, to the general ſatisfaction of all parties. She was the ſecond daughter of king James, by his firſt wife, the daughter of chancellor Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon. Upon coming to the crown, ſhe reſolved to declare war againſt France, and communicated her intentions to the houſe of commons, by whom it was approved, and war was proclaimed accordingly.

This declaration of war on the part of the Engliſh, was ſeconded by ſimilar declarations by the Dutch [Page 274] and Germans, all on the ſame day. The French monarch could not ſuppreſs his anger at ſuch a combination, but his chief reſentment fell upon the Dutch. He declared, with great emotion, that as for thoſe gentlemen pedlars, the Dutch, they ſhould one day repent their inſolence and preſumption, in declaring war againſt one whoſe power they had formerly felt and dreaded. However, the affairs of the allies were no way influenced by his threats. The duke of Marlborough had his views gratified, in being appointed general of the Engliſh forces; and he was ſtill farther flattered by the Dutch, who, though the earl of Athlone had a right to ſhare the command, appointed Marlborough generaliſſimo of the allied army. And it muſt be confeſſed, that few men ſhone more, either in debate or action, than he; ſerene in the midſt of danger, and indefatigable in the cabinet; ſo that he became the moſt formidable enemy to France that England had produced, ſince the conquering times of Creſſy and Agincourt.

A great part of the hiſtory of this reign, conſiſts in battles fought upon the continent, which, though of very little advantage to the intereſts of the nation, were very great additions to its honour. Theſe triumphs, it is true, are paſſed away, and nothing remains of them but the names of Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet, where the allied army gained great, but (with reſpect to England) uſeleſs victories.

A conqueſt of much greater national importance was gained with leſs expence of blood and treaſure in Spain. The miniſtry of England underſtanding that the French were employed in equipping a ſtrong ſquadron in Breſt, ſent out Sir Cloudeſly Shovel, and Sir George Rooke to watch their motions. Sir George, however, had farther orders to convoy a body of forces in tranſport-ſhips to Barcelona, upon which a fruitleſs attack was made by the prince of [Page 275] Heſſe. Finding no hopes, therefore, from this expedition, in two days after the troops were reimbarked, Sir George Rooke, joined by Sir Cloudeſly, called a council of war on board the fleet, as they lay off the coaſt of Africa. In this they reſolved to make an attempt upon Gibraltar, a city then belonging to the Spaniards, at that time ill provided with a garriſon, as neither expecting, nor fearing ſuch an attempt.

The town of Gibraltar ſtands upon a tongue of land, as the mariners call it, and defended by a rock inacceſſible on every ſide but one. The prince of Heſſe landed his troops, to the number of eighteen hundred, on the continent adjoining, and ſummoned the town to ſurrender, but without effect. Next day the admiral gave orders for cannonading the town; and perceiving that the enemy were driven from their fortifications at a place called the South Mole-head, ordered captain Whitaker to arm all the boats, and aſſault that quarter. Thoſe officers who happened to be neareſt the Mole, immediately manned their boats without orders, and entered the fortification ſword in hand. But they were premature; for the Spaniards ſprung a mine, by which two lieutenants, and about one hundred men were killed and wounded. Nevertheleſs, the two captains, Hicks and Jumper, took poſſeſſion of a platform, and kept their ground, until they were ſuſtained by captain Whitaker, and the reſt of the ſeamen, who took a redoubt between the Mole and the town by ſtorm. Then the governor capitulated, and the prince of Heſſe entered the place, amazed at the ſucceſs of the attempt, conſidering the ſtrength of the fortifications. When the news of this conqueſt was brought to England, it was for ſome time in debate whether it was a capture worth thanking the admiral for. It was at laſt conſidered as unworthy public gratitude; and while the duke of Marlborough was extolled for uſeleſs ſervices, Sir [Page 276] George Rooke was left to neglect, and ſoon diſplaced from his command, for having ſo eſſentially ſerved his country. A ſtriking inſtance that even in the moſt enlightened age, popular applauſe is moſt uſually miſplaced. Gibraltar has ever ſince remained in the poffeſſion of the Engliſh, and continues of the utmoſt uſe in refitting that part of the navy deſtined to annoy an enemy, or protect our trade in the Mediterranean. Here the Engliſh have a repoſitory capable of containing all things neceſſary for the repairing of fleets, or the equipment of armies.

While the Engliſh were thus victorious by land and ſea, a new ſcene of contention was opened on the ſide of Spain, where the ambition of the European princes exerted itſelf with the ſame fury that had filled the reſt of the continent. Philip the Fourth, grandſon of Lewis the Fourteenth, had been placed upon the throne of that kingdom, and had been received with the joyful concurrence of the greateſt part of his ſubjects. He had alſo been nominated ſucceſſor to the crown by the late king of Spain's will. But in a former treaty among the powers of Europe, Charles, ſon of the emperor of Germany, was appointed heir to that crown; and this treaty had been guarantied by France herſelf, though ſhe now reſolved to reverſe that conſent in favour of a deſcendant of the houſe of Bourbon. Charles was ſtill farther led on to put in for the crown of Spain by the invitation of the Catalonians, who declared in his favour, and by the aſſiſtance of the Engliſh and Portugueſe, who promiſed to arm in his cauſe. He was furniſhed with two hundred tranſports, thirty ſhips of war, and nine thouſand men, for the conqueſt of that extenſive empire. But the earl of Peterborough, a man of romantic bravery, offered to conduct them; and his ſingle ſervice was thought equivalent to armies.

[Page 277] The earl of Peterborough was one of the moſt ſingular and extraordinary men of the age in which he lived. When yet but fifteen he fought againſt the Moors in Africa; at twenty he aſſiſted in compaſſing the revolution, and he now carried on the war in Spain almoſt at his own expence; his friendſhip for the duke Charles being one of his chief motives to this great undertaking. He was deformed in his perſon; but of a mind the moſt generous, honourable, and active. His firſt attempt upon landing in Spain was the taking Barcelona, a ſtrong city, with a garriſon of five thouſand men, while his own army amounted to little more than nine thouſand.

Theſe ſucceſſes, however, were but of ſhort continuance; Peterborough being recalled, and the army under Charles being commanded by the lord Galway. This nobleman having received intelligence that the enemy, under the command of the duke of Berwick, was poſted near the town of Almanza, he advanced thither to give him battle. The conflict began about two in the afternoon, and the whole front of each army was fully engaged.The center, conſiſting chiefly of battalions from Great Britain and Holland, ſeemed at firſt victorious; but the Portugueſe horſe, by whom they were ſupported, betaking themſelves to flight on the firſt charge, the Engliſh troops were flanked and ſurrounded on every ſide. In this dreadful emergency, they formed themſelves into a ſquare, and retired to an eminence, where, being ignorant of the country, and deſtitute of all ſupplies, they were obliged to ſurrender priſoners of war, to the number of ten thouſand men. This victory was complete and deciſive; and all Spain, except the province of Catalonia, returned to their duty to Philip their ſovereign.

The councils of the queen had hitherto been governed by a Whig miniſtry; for though the duke of [Page 278] Marlborough had firſt ſtarted in the Tory intereſt, he ſoon joined the oppoſite faction, as he found them moſt ſincere in their deſires to humble the power of France. The Whigs therefore ſtill purſued the ſchemes of the late king; and impreſſed with a republican ſpirit of liberty, ſtrove to humble deſpotiſm in every part of Europe. In a government where the reaſoning of individuals, retired from power, generally leads thoſe who command, the deſigns of the miniſtry muſt alter as the people happen to change. The people, in fact, were beginning to change. But previous to the diſgrace of the Whig miniſtry, whoſe fall was now haſtening, a meaſure of the greateſt importance took place in parliament; a meaſure that had been wiſhed by many, but thought too difficult for execution. What I mean, is the union between the two kingdoms of England and Scotland; which, though they were governed by one ſovereign ſince the acceſſion of James the Firſt, yet were ſtill ruled by their reſpective parliaments, and often profeſſed to purſue oppoſite intereſts and different deſigns.

The attempt for an union was begun at the commencement of this reign; but ſome diſputes ariſing relative to the trade to the Eaſt, the conference was broke up, and it was thought that an adjuſtment would be impoſſible. It was revived by an act in either parliament, granting power to commiſſioners named on the part of both nations, to treat on the preliminary articles of an union, which ſhould afterwards undergo a more thorough diſcuſſion by the legiſlative body of both kingdoms. The choice of theſe commiſſioners was left to the queen; and ſhe took care that none ſhould be employed, but ſuch as heartily wiſhed to promote ſo deſirable a meaſure.

Accordingly the queen having appointed commiſſioners on both ſides, they met in the council-chamber of the Cock-pit, near Whitehall, which was the place appointed for their conferences. As the queen [Page 279] frequently exhorted the commiſſioners diſpatch, the articles of this famous union were ſoon agreed to, and ſigned by the commiſſioners; and it only remained to lay them before the parliaments of both nations.

In this famous treaty it was ſtipulated, that the ſucceſſion to the united kingdoms ſhould be veſted in the houſe of Hanover; that the united kingdoms ſhould be repreſented by one and the ſame parliament; that all the ſubjects of Great Britain ſhould enjoy a communication of privileges and advantages; that they ſhould have the ſame allowances and privileges with reſpect to commerce and cuſtoms; that the laws concerning public right, civil government and policy, ſhould be the ſame throughout the two united kingdoms; but that no alteration ſhould be made in laws which concerned private right, except for the evident benefit of the ſubjects of Scotland; that the courts of ſeſſion, and all other courts of judicature in Scotland, ſhould remain, as then conſtituted by the laws of that kingdom, with the ſame authority and privileges as before the union; that Scotland ſhould be repreſented in the parliament of Great Britain, by ſixteen peers, and forty-five commoners, to be elected in ſuch a manner, as ſhould be ſettled by the preſent parliament of Scotland; that all peers of Scotland ſhould be conſidered as peers of Great Britain, and rank immediately after the Engliſh peers of the like degrees, at the time of the union, and before ſuch as ſhould be created after it; that they ſhould enjoy all the privileges of Engliſh peers, except that of ſitting and voting in parliament, or ſitting upon the trial of peers; that all the inſignia of royalty and government ſhould remain as they were; that all laws and ſtatutes in either kingdom, ſo far as they might be inconſiſtent with the terms of theſe articles, ſhould ceaſe, and be declared void by the reſpective parliaments of the two kingdoms. Theſe were the principal articles of the union; and it only [Page 280] remained to obtain the ſanction of the legiſlature of both kingdoms to give them authority.

The arguments in theſe different aſſemblies were ſuited to the audience. To induce the Scotch parliament to come into the meaſure, it was alledged by the miniſtry, and their ſupporters, that an entire and perfect union would be the ſolid foundation of a laſting peace. It would ſecure their religion, liberty, and property, remove the animoſities that prevailed among themſelves, and the jealouſies that ſubſiſted between the two nations. It would increaſe their ſtrength, riches and commerce, the whole iſland would be joined in affection, and freed from all apprehenſions of different intereſts. It would be enabled to reſiſt all its enemies, ſupport the Proteſtant intereſts, and maintain the liberties of Europe. It was obſerved, that the leſs the wheels of government were clogged by a multiplicity of councils, the more vigorous would be their exertions. They were ſhewn that the taxes which, in conſequence of this union, they were to pay, were by no means ſo great proportionably as their ſhare in the legiſlature. That their taxes did not amount to a ſeventieth part of thoſe ſupplied by the Engliſh; and yet their ſhare in the legiſlature was not a tenth part leſs. Such were the arguments in favour of the union, addreſſed to the Scotch parliament. In the Engliſh houſes it was obſerved, that a powerful and dangerous nation would thus for ever be prevented from giving them any diſturbance. That in caſe of any future rupture, England had every thing to loſe, and nothing to gain againſt a nation that was courageous and poor.

On the other hand, the Scotch were fired with indignation at the thoughts of loſing their ancient and independent government. The nobility found themſelves degraded in point of dignity and influence, by being excluded from their ſeats in parliament. The trading part of the nation beheld [Page 281] held their commerce loaded with heavy duties, and conſidered their new privilege of trading to the Engliſh plantations in the Weſt Indies, as a very uncertain advantage. In the Engliſh houſes alſo it was obſerved, that the union of a rich with a poor nation would always be beneficial to the latter, and that the former could only hope for a participation of their neceſſities. It was ſaid that the Scotch reluctantly yielded to this coalition, and that it might be likened to a marriage with a woman againſt her conſent. It was ſuppoſed to be an union made up of ſo many unmatched pieces, and ſuch incongruous ingredients, that it could never take effect. It was complained, that the proportion of the land-tax paid by the Scotch was ſmall, and unequal to their ſhare in the legiſlature.

At length, notwithſtanding all oppoſition made by the Tories, every article of the union was approved by a great majority in both parliaments.

Thus all were obliged to acquieſce in an union of which they at firſt had not ſagacity to diſtinguiſh the advantages.

In the mean time the Whig miniſtry was every day declining. Among the number of thoſe whom the ducheſs of Marlborough had introduced to the queen, to contribute to her private amuſement, was one Mrs. Maſham, her own kinſwoman, whom ſhe had raiſed from indigence and obſcurity. The ducheſs having gained the aſcendant over the queen, became petulant and inſolent, and relaxed in thoſe arts by which ſhe had riſen. Mrs. Maſham, who had her fortune to make, was more humble and aſſiduous; ſhe flattered the foibles of the queen, and aſſented to her prepoſſeſſions and prejudices. She ſoon ſaw the queen's inclination to the Tory ſet of opinions, their divine right and paſſive obedience; and inſtead of attempting to thwart her, as the ducheſs had done, ſhe joined in with her partiality, and even outwent her in her own way.

[Page 282] This lady was in fact the tool of Mr. Harley, ſecretary of ſtate, who alſo ſome time before had inſinuated himſelf into the queen's good graces, and who determined to ſap the credit of the Whig miniſters His aim was to unite the Tory intereſt under his own ſhelter, and to expel the Whigs from the advantages which they had long enjoyed under government.

In his career of ambition he choſe for his coadjutor Henry St. John, afterwards the famous lord Bolingbroke, a man of great eloquence, and greater ambition, enterpriſing, reſtleſs, active, and haughty, with ſome wit, and little principle.

To this junto was added Sir Simon Harcourt, a lawyer, a man of great abilities.

It was now perceived that the people themſelves began to be weary of the Whig miniſtry, whom they formerly careſſed. To them they imputed the burthens under which they groaned, burthens which they had been hitherto animated to bear by the pomp of triumph; but the load of which they felt in a pauſe of ſucceſs.

Harley, afterwards known by the title of lord Oxford, was at the bottom of all theſe complaints; and though they did not produce an immediate effect, yet they did not fail of a growing and ſteady operation.

At length the Whig part of the miniſtry opened their eyes to the intrigues of the Tories. But it was now too late, they had entirely loſt the confidence of the queen.

Harley ſoon threw off the maſk of friendſhip, and took more vigorous meaſures for the proſecution of his deſigns. In him the queen repoſed all her truſt, though he had now no viſible concern in the adminiſtration. The firſt triumph of the Tories, in which the queen diſcovered a public partiality in their favour, was ſeen in a tranſaction of no great [Page 283] importance in itſelf, but from the conſequences it produced. The parties of the nation were eager to engage, and they wanted but the watch-word to begin. This was given by a man neither of abilities, property, or power; but accidentally brought forward on this occaſion.

Henry Sacheverel was a clergyman bred at Oxford, of narrow intellects, and an overheated imagination. He had acquired ſome popularity among thoſe who diſtinguiſhed themſelves by the name of high-churchmen, and had taken all occaſions to vent his animoſity againſt the diſſenters. At the ſummer aſſizes at Derby he held forth in that ſtrain before the judges. On the fifth of November, in St. Paul's church, he, in a violent declamation, defended the doctrine of non-reſiſtance, inveighed againſt the toleration of diſſenters, declared the church was dangerouſly attacked by its enemies, and ſlightly defended by its falſe friends. He ſounded the trumpet for the zealous, and exhorted the people to put on the whole armour of God. Sir Samuel Gerrard, lord-mayor, countenanced this harangue, which, though very weak both in the matter and ſtile, was publiſhed under his protection, and extolled by the Tories as a maſter-piece of writing. Theſe ſermons owed all their celebrity to the complexion of the times, and they are now deſervedly neglected.

Mr. Dolben, ſon to the archbiſhop of York, laid a complaint before the houſe of commons againſt theſe rhapſodies, and thus gave force to what would have ſoon been forgotten. The moſt violent paragraphs were read, and the ſermons voted ſcandalous and ſeditious libels. Sacheverel was brought to the bar of the houſe, and he, far from diſowning the writing of them, gloried in what he had done, and mentioned the encouragement he had received to publiſh them from the lord-mayor, who was then preſent. Being ordered to withdraw, it was reſolved [Page 284] to impeach him of high crimes and miſdemeanors at the bar of the houſe of lords; and Mr. Dolben was fixed upon to conduct the proſecution, in the name of the commons of all England. A committee was appointed to draw up articles of impeachment; Sacheverel was taken into cuſtody, and a day was appointed for his trial before the lords in Weſtminſter-hall.

The eyes of the whole kingdom were turned upon this very extraordinary trial, which laſted three weeks, and excluded all other public buſineſs for the time. The queen herſelf was every day preſent as a private ſpectator, while vaſt multitudes attended the culprit each day as he went to the hall, ſhouting as he paſſed, or ſilently praying for his ſucceſs. The managers for the commons were Sir Joſeph Jekyl, Mr. Eyre, ſolicitor general, Sir Peter King, recorder, general Stanhope, Sir Thomas Parker, and Mr. Walpole. The doctor was defended by Sir Simon Harcourt, and Mr. Phipps, and aſſiſted by doctor Atterbury, doctor Smallridge, and doctor Freind. While the trial continued, nothing could exceed the violence and outrage of the populace. They ſurrounded the queen's ſedan, exclaiming, ‘"God bleſs your majeſty and the church; we hope your majeſty is for doctor Sacheverel."’ They deſtroyed ſeveral meeting-houſes, plundered the dwellings of many eminent diſſenters, and even propoſed to attack the bank. The queen, in compliance with the requeſt of the commons, publiſhed a proclamation for ſuppreſſing the tumults; and ſeveral perſons being apprehended were tried for high treaſon. Two were convicted, and ſentenced to die, but neither ſuffered.

When the commons had gone through their charge, the managers for Sacheverel undertook his defence with great art and eloquence. He afterwards recited a ſpeech himſelf, which, from the difference [Page 285] found between it and his ſermons, ſeems evidently the work of another. In this he ſolemnly juſtified his intentions towards the queen and her government. He ſpoke in the moſt reſpectful terms of the revolution, and the proteſtant ſucceſſion. He maintained the doctrine of non-reſiſtance as a tenet of the church, in which he was brought up; and in a pathetic concluſion endeavoured to excite the pity of his audience.

At length, after much obſtinate diſpute, and virulent altercation, Sacheverel was found guilty, by a majority of ſeventeen voices; but no leſs than four and thirty peers entered a proteſt againſt this deciſion. He was prohibited from preaching for three years; and his two ſermons were ordered to be burned by the hands of the common hangman, in preſence of the lord-mayor and the two ſheriffs. The lenity of this ſentence, which was, in a great meaſure, owing to the dread of popular reſentment, was conſidered by the Tories as a triumph.

Such was the complexion of the times, when the queen thought proper to ſummon a new parliament▪ and being a friend to the Tories herſelf, ſhe gave the people an opportunity of indulging themſelves in chuſing repreſentatives to their mind. In fact, very few were returned but ſuch as had diſtinguiſhed themſelves by their zeal againſt the Whig adminiſtration.

In the mean time the campaign in Flanders was conducted with the moſt brilliant ſucceſs. The duke of Marlborough had every motive to continue the war, as it gratified not only his ambition but his avarice; a paſſion that obſcured his ſhining abilities.

The king of France appeared extremely deſirous of a peace, and reſolved to ſolicit a conference. He employed one Petkum, reſident of the duke of Holſtein at the Hague, to negotiate upon this ſubject, and he ventured alſo to ſolicit the duke himſelf in [Page 286] private. A conference was at length begun at Gertruydenburgh, under the influence of Marlborough, Eugene, and Zinzendorff, who were all three, from private motives, entirely averſe to the treaty. Upon this occaſion the French miniſters were ſubjected to every ſpecies of mortification. Spies were placed upon all their conduct. Their maſter was inſulted, and their letters were opened; till at laſt Lewis reſolved to hazard another campaign.

It was only by inſenſible degrees that the queen ſeemed to acquire courage enough to ſecond her inclinations, and depoſe a miniſtry that had long been diſagreeable to her. Harley, however, who ſtill ſhared her confidence, did not fail to inculcate the popularity, the juſtice, and the ſecurity of ſuch a meaſure; and, in conſequence of his advice, ſhe began the changes, by transferring the poſt of lord chamberlain from the duke of Kent to the duke of Shrewſbury, who had lately voted with the Tories, and maintained an intimate correſpondence with Mr. Harley. Soon after the earl of Sunderland, ſecretary of ſtate, and ſon-in-law to the duke of Marlborough was diſplaced, and the earl of Dartmouth put in his room. Finding that ſhe was rather applauded than condemned for this reſolute proceeding, ſhe reſolved to become entirely free.

Soon after the earl of Godolphin was diveſted of his office, and the treaſury put in commiſſion, ſubjected to the direction of Harley, who was appointed chancellor of the exchequer, and under treaſurer. The earl of Rocheſter was declared preſident of the council, in the room of lord Somers. The ſtaff of lord ſteward being taken from the duke of Devonſhire, was given to the duke of Buckingham; and Mr. Boyle was removed from the ſecretary's office, to make way for Mr. Henry St. John. The lord chancellor having reſigned the great ſeal, it was firſt put in commiſſion, and then given to Sir Simon [Page 287] Harcourt. The earl of Wharton ſurrendered his commiſſion of lord lieutenant of Ireland; and that employment was conferred upon the duke of Ormond. Mr. George Granville was appointed ſecretary at war, in the room of Mr. Robert Walpole; and in a word, there was not one Whig left in any office of the ſtate, except the duke of Marlborough. He was ſtill continued the reluctant general of the army; but he juſtly conſidered himſelf as a ruin entirely undermined, and juſt ready to fall.

But the triumph was not yet complete, until the parliament was brought to confirm and approve the queen's choice. The queen in her ſpeech recommended the proſecution of the war with vigour. The parliament were ardent in their expreſſions of zeal and unanimity. They exhorted her to diſcountenance all ſuch principles and meaſures, as had lately threatened her royal crown and dignity. This was but an opening to what ſoon after followed. The duke of Marlborough, who but a few months before had been ſo highly extolled and careſſed by the repreſentatives of the people, was now become the object of their hatred and reproach. His avarice was juſtly upbraided; his protracting the war was ſaid to ariſe from that motive. Inſtances were every where given of his fraud and extortion. Theſe might be true, but party had no moderation, and even his courage and conduct were called in queſtion. To mortify the duke ſtill more, the thanks of the houſe of commons were voted to the earl of Peterborough for his ſervices in Spain, when they were refuſed to the duke for thoſe in Flanders; and the lord keeper, who delivered them to Peterborough, took occaſion to drop ſome reflections againſt the mercenary diſpoſition of his rival.

Nothing now, therefore, remained of the Whig ſyſtem, upon which this reign was begun, but the war, which continued to rage as fierce as ever, and which increaſed in expence every year as it went on. [Page 288] It was the reſolution of the preſent miniſtry to put an end to it at any rate, as it had involved the nation in debt almoſt to bankruptcy; and as it promiſed, inſtead of humbling the enemy, only to become habitual to the conſtitution.

It only remained to remove the duke of Marlborough from his poſt, as he would endeavour to traverſe all their negotiations. But here again a difficulty ſtarted, this ſtep could not be taken without giving offence to the Dutch, who placed entire confidence in him; they were obliged, therefore, to wait for ſome convenient occaſion. Upon his return from this campaign he was accuſed of having taken a bribe of ſix thouſand pounds a year from a Jew, who contracted to ſupply the army with bread; and the queen thought proper to diſmiſs him from all his employments. This was the pretext made uſe of, though his fall had been predetermined; and though his receiving ſuch a bribe was not the real cauſe of his removal, yet candour muſt confeſs that it ought to have been ſo.

In the mean time Prior, much more famous as a poet than as a ſtateſman, was ſent over with propoſals to France; and Menager, a man of no great ſtation, returned with Prior to London, with full powers to treat upon the preliminaries.

The miniſtry having got thus far, the great difficulty ſtill lay before them, of making the terms of peace agreeable to all the confederates. The earl of Stafford, who had been lately recalled from the Hague, where he reſided as ambaſſador, was now ſent back to Holland, with orders to communicate to the penſionary Heinſius, the preliminary propoſals, to ſignify the queen's approbation of them, and to propoſe a place where the plenipotentiaries ſhould aſſemble. The Dutch were very averſe to begin the conference, upon the inſpection of the preliminaries. They ſent over an envoy to attempt to turn the [Page 289] queen from her reſolution, but finding their efforts vain, they fixed upon Utrecht as the place of general conference, and they granted paſſports to the French miniſters accordingly.

The conferences began at Utrecht, under the conduct of Robinſon, biſhop of Briſtol, lord privy-ſeal, and the earl of Stafford, on the ſide of the Engliſh▪ of Buys and Vanderduſſen on the part of the Dutch; and of the marſhal D'Uxelles, the cardinal Polignac, and Mr. Menager, in behalf of France. The miniſters of the emperor and Savoy aſſiſted, and the other allies ſent alſo plenipotentiaries, though with the utmoſt reluctance. As England and France, were the only two powers that were ſeriouſly inclined to peace, it may be ſuppoſed that all the other deputies ſerved rather to retard than advance its progreſs. They met rather to ſtart new difficulties, and widen the breach, than to quiet the diſſentions of Europe.

The Engliſh miniſters therefore, finding multiplied obſtructions from the deliberations of their allies, ſet on foot a private negotiation with France. They ſtipulated certain advantages for the ſubjects of Great Britain in a concerted plan of peace. They reſolved to enter into ſuch mutual confidence with the French, as would anticipate all clandeſtine tranſactions to the prejudice of the coalition.

In the beginning of Auguſt, [Note: A. D. 1712.] ſecretary St. John, who had been created lord viſcount Bolingbroke, was ſent to the court of Verſailles to remove all obſtructions to the ſeparate treaty. He was accompanied by Mr. Prior, and the abbé Gualtier, and treated with the moſt diſtinguiſhed marks of reſpect. He was careſſed by the French king, and the marquis de Torcy, with whom he adjuſted the principal intereſts of the duke of Savoy, and the elector of Bavaria.

[Page 290] At length the treaties of peace and commerce between England and France being agreed on by the plenipotentiaries on either ſide, and ratified by the queen, ſhe acquainted her parliament of the ſteps ſhe had taken.

The articles of this famous treaty were longer canvaſſed, and more warmly debated, than thoſe of any other treaty read of in hiſtory. The number of different intereſts concerned, and the great enmity and jealouſy ſubſiſting between all, made it impoſſible that all could be ſatisfied; and indeed there ſeemed no other method of obtaining peace, but that which was taken, for the two principal powers concerned to make their own articles, and to leave the reſt for a ſubject of future diſcuſſion.

The firſt ſtipulation was, that Philip, now acknowledged king of Spain, ſhould renounce all right to the crown of France, the union of two ſuch powerful kingdoms being thought dangerous to the liberties of Europe. It was agreed that the duke of Berry, Philip's brother, and after him in ſucceſſion, ſhould alſo renounce his right to the crown of Spain, in caſe he became king of France. It was ſtipulated that the duke of Savoy ſhould poſſeſs the iſland of Sicily, with the title of king, together with Feneſtrelles, and other places on the continent, which increaſe of dominion was in ſome meaſure made out of the ſpoils of the French monarchy. The Dutch had that barrier granted them, which they ſo long ſought after; and if the crown of France was deprived of ſome dominions to enrich the duke of Savoy, on the other hand the houſe of Auſtria was taxed to ſupply the wants of the Hollanders, who were put in poſſeſſion of the ſtrongeſt towns in Flanders. With regard to England, its glory and its intereſts were ſecured. The fortifications of Dunkirk, an harbour that might be dangerous to their trade in time of war, were ordered to be demoliſhed, and its port deſtroyed. Spain gave [Page 291] up all right to Gibraltar, and the iſland of Minorca. France reſigned her pretenſions to Hudſon's Bay, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland; but they were left in poſſeſſion of Cape Breton, and the liberty of drying their fiſh upon the ſhore. Among thoſe articles, glorious to the Engliſh nation, their ſetting free the French proteſtants, confined in the priſons and gallies for their religion was not the leaſt meritorious. For the emperor it was ſtipulated, that he ſhould poſſeſs the kingdom of Naples, the duchy of Milan, and the Spaniſh Netherlands. The king of Pruſſia was to have Upper Guelder; and a time was fixed for the Emperor's acceding to theſe articles, as he had for ſome time obſtitately refuſed to aſſiſt at the negociation. Thus Europe ſeemed to be formed into one great republic, the different members of which were cantoned out to different governors, and the ambition of any one ſtate, amenable to the tribunal of all. Thus it appears that the Engliſh miniſtry did juſtice to all the world; but their country denied that juſtice to them.

But while the Whigs were attacking the Tory miniſters from without, theſe were in much greater danger from their own internal diſſenſions. Lord Oxford, and lord Bolingbroke, though they had ſtarted with the ſame principles and deſigns, yet having vanquiſhed other oppoſers, now began to turn their ſtrength againſt each other. Both began to form ſeparate intereſts, and to adopt different principles. Oxford's plan was the more moderate, Bolingbroke's the more vigorous, but the more ſecure. Oxford it is thought was entirely for the Hanover ſucceſſion; Bolingbroke had ſome hopes of bringing in the Pretender. But though they hated each other moſt ſincerely, yet they were for a while kept together by the good offices of their friends and adherents, who had the melancholy proſpect of ſeeing the citadel of their [Page 292] hopes, while openly beſieged from without, ſecretly undermining within.

This was a mortifying proſpect to the Tories; but it was more particularly diſpleaſing to the queen, who daily ſaw her favourite miniſtry declining, while her own health kept pace with their contentions. Her conſtitution was now quite broken. One fit of ſickneſs ſucceeded another; and what completed the ruin of her health, was the anxiety of her mind. Theſe diſſenſions had ſuch an effect upon her ſpirits and conſtitution, that ſhe declared ſhe could not outlive it, and immediately ſunk into a ſtate of lethargic inſenſibility. Notwithſtanding all the medicines which the phyſicians could preſcribe, the diſtemper gained ground ſo faſt, [Note: July 30. 1714.] that the day after they deſpaired of her life, and the privy-council was aſſembled on the occaſion.

All the members without diſtinction, being ſummoned from the different parts of the kingdom, began to provide for the ſecurity of the conſtitution. They ſent a letter to the elector of Hanover informing him of the queen's deſperate ſituation, and deſiring him to repair to Holland, where he would be attended by a Britiſh ſquadron to convey him to England. At the ſame time they diſpatched inſtructions to the earl of Strafford at the Hague, to deſire the ſtates-general to be ready, to perform the guaranty of the Proteſtant ſucceſſion. Precautions were taken to ſecure the ſea-ports; and the command of the fleet was beſtowed upon the earl of Berkeley, a profeſſed Whig. Theſe meaſures, which were all dictated by that party, anſwered a double end. It argued their own alacrity in the cauſe of their new ſovereign, and ſeemed to imply a danger to the ſtate from the diſaffection of the oppoſite intereſt.

On the thirtieth of July, the queen ſeemed ſomewhat relieved by medicines, roſe from her bed about [Page 293] eight o'clock, and walked a little. After ſome time, caſting her eyes on a clock that ſtood in her chamber, ſhe continued to gaze at it for ſome minutes. One of the ladies in waiting aſked her what ſhe ſaw there more than uſual; to which the queen only anſwered, by turning her eyes upon her with a dying look. She was ſoon after ſeized with a fit of the apoplexy: ſhe continued all night in a ſtate of ſtupefaction, and expired the following morning, in the forty-ninth year of her age. She reigned more than twelve years over a people that was now riſen to the higheſt pitch of refinement; that had attained by their wiſdom all the advantages of opulence, and by their valour all the happineſs of ſecurity and conqueſt.


PURSUANT to the act of ſucceſſion, George the firſt, ſon of Erneſt Auguſtus, firſt elector of Brunſwick, and the princeſs Sophia, grand-daughter to James the firſt, aſcended the Britiſh throne. His mature age, he being now fifty-four years old, his ſagacity and experience, his numerous alliances, the general tranquility of Europe, all contributed to eſtabliſh his intereſts, and to promiſe him a peaceable and happy reign. His virtues, though not ſhining, were ſolid; he was of a very different diſpoſition from the Stuart family, whom he ſucceeded. Theſe were known, to a proverb, for leaving their friends in extremity; George, on the contrary, ſoon after his arrival in England, was heard to ſay; "My maxim is, never to abandon my friends. To do juſtice to all the world, and to fear no man" To theſe qualifications of reſolution and perſeverance, he joined great application to buſineſs. However, one [Page 294] fault with reſpect to England remained behind; he ſtudied the intereſts of thoſe ſubjects he had left, more than thoſe he came to govern.

The queen had no ſooner reſigned her laſt breath, that the privy-council met, and three inſtruments were produced, by which the elector appointed ſeveral of his known adherents to be added as lords juſtices to the ſeven great offices of the kingdom. Orders alſo were immediately iſſued out for proclaiming George king of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The regency appointed the earl of Dorſet to carry him the intimation of his acceſſion to the crown, and to attend him in his journey to England. They ſent the general officers, in whom they could confide, to their poſts; they reinforced the garriſon of Portſmouth, and appointed the celebrated Mr. Addiſon ſecretary of ſtate. To mortify the late miniſtry the more, lord Bolingbroke was obliged to wait every morning in the paſſage, among the ſervants, with his bag of papers, where there were perſons purpoſely placed to inſult and deride him. No tumult appeared, no commotion aroſe againſt the acceſſion of the new king, and this gave a ſtrong proof that no rational meaſures were ever taken to obſtruct his exaltation.

When he firſt landed at Greenwich, he was received by the duke of Northumberland, captain of the life-guard, and the lords of the regency. When he retired to his bed-chamber, he then ſent for ſuch of the nobility as had diſtinguiſhed themſelves by their zeal for his ſucceſſion. But the duke of Ormond, the lord chancellor, and the lord treaſurer, found themſelves excluded.

The king of a faction is but the ſovereign of half his ſubjects. Of this, however, the new-elected monarch did not ſeem ſenſible. It was his misfortune, and conſequently that of the nation, that he was hemmed round by men, who ſoured him with all [Page 295] their own intereſts and prejudices. None now but the leaders of a party were admitted into employment. The Whigs while they pretended to ſecure the crown for their king, were with all poſſible arts confirming their own intereſts, extending their connexions, and giving laws to their ſovereign. An inſtantaneous and total change was made in all the offices of truſt, honour, or advantage. The Whigs governed the ſenate and the court; whom they would, they opppreſſed; bound the lower orders of people with ſevere laws, and kept them at a diſtance by vile diſtinctions; and then taught them to call this—Liberty.

Theſe partialities ſoon raiſed diſcontents among the people, and the king's attachment conſiderably encreaſed the malecontents through all the kingdom. The clamour of the church's being in danger was revived, and the people only ſeemed to want a leader to incite them to inſurrection. Birmingham, Briſtol, Norwich, and Reading, ſtill remembered the ſpirit with which they had declared for Sacheverel; and now the cry was, Down with the Whigs, and Sacheverel for ever.

Upon the firſt meeting of the new parliament, in which the Whigs, [Note: A. D. 1714.] with the king at their head, were predominant, nothing was expected but the moſt violent meaſures againſt the late miniſtry, nor were the expectations of mankind diſappointed.

The lords profeſſed their hopes that the king would be able to recover the reputation of the kingdom on the continent, the loſs of which they affected to deplore. The commons went much farther: they declared their reſolution to trace out thoſe meaſures by which the country was depreſſed: they reſolved to ſeek after thoſe abettors on whom the pretender ſeemed to ground his hopes; and they determined to bring ſuch to condign puniſhment.

[Page 296] It was the artifice, during this and the ſucceeding reign, to ſtigmatize all thoſe who teſtified their diſcontent againſt government, as Papiſts and Jacobites. All who ventured to ſpeak againſt the violence of their meaſures, were reproached as deſigning to bring in the pretender; and moſt people were conſequently afraid to murmur, ſince diſcontent was ſo near a-kin to treaſon. The people, therefore, beheld the violence of their conduct in ſilent fright, internally diſapproving, yet not daring to avow their deteſtation.

A committee was appointed, conſiſting of twenty perſons, to inſpect all the papers relative to the late negociation for peace; and to pick out ſuch of them as might ſerve as ſubjects of accuſation againſt the late miniſtry. After ſome time ſpent in this diſquiſition, Mr. Walpole, as chairman of the committee, declared to the houſe that a report was drawn up; and in the mean time, moved that a warrant might be iſſued for apprehending Mr. Matthew Prior, and Mr. Thomas Harley, who being in the houſe, were immediately taken into cuſtody. He then impeached lord Bolingbroke of high treaſon. This ſtruck ſome of the members with amazement; but they were ſtill more aſtoniſhed, when lord Coningſby, riſing up, was heard to ſay, ‘"The worthy chairman has impeached the hand, but I impeach the head; he has impeached the ſcholar, and I the maſter. I impeach Robert earl of Oxford, and earl Mortimer, of high treaſon, and other crimes and miſdemeanors."’

When lord Oxford appeared in the houſe of lords, the day following, he was avoided by the peers as infectious; and he had now an opportunity of diſcovering the baſeneſs of mankind. When the articles were read againſt him in the houſe of commons, a warm debate aroſe upon that in which he was charged with having adviſed the French king of the manner [Page 297] of gaining Tournay from the Dutch. Mr. Walpole alledged that it was treaſon. Sir Joſeph Jekyl, a known Whig, ſaid that he could never be of opinion that it amounted to treaſon. It was his principle, he ſaid, to do juſtice to all men, to the higheſt and the loweſt. He hoped he might pretend to ſome knowledge of the laws, and would not ſcruple to declare upon this part of the queſtion in favour of the criminal. To this Walpole anſwered, with great warmth, that there were ſeveral perſons both in and out of the committee, who did not in the leaſt yield to that member in point of honeſty, exceeded him in the knowledge of the laws, and yet were ſatisfied that the charge in that article amounted to high treaſon. This point being decided againſt the earl, and the other articles, approved by the houſe, the lord Coningſby, attended by the Whig members, impeached him ſoon after at the bar of the houſe of lords, demanding, at the ſame time, that he might loſe his ſeat, and be committed to cuſtody. When this point came to be debated in the houſe of lords, a violent altercation enſued. Thoſe who ſtill adhered to the depoſed miniſter, maintained the injuſtice and the danger of ſuch a proceeding. At laſt the earl himſelf roſe up, and with great tranquility obſerved, That for his own part he always acted by the immediate directions and command of the queen, his miſtreſs▪ he had never offended againſt any known law, and was unconcerned for the life of an inſignificant old man.

Next day he was brought to the bar, where be received a copy of his impeachment, and was allowed a month to prepare his anſwer. Though Dr. Mead declared that if the earl ſhould be ſent to the Tower, his life would be in danger, it was carried in the houſe that ſhould be committed.

At the ſame time the duke of Ormond and lord Bolingbroke having omitted to ſurrender themſelves, [Page 298] for they had actually, fled to the continent, within a limited time, it was ordered that the earl marſhal ſhould raze out their names and arms from among the liſt of peers, and inventories were taken of their eſtates and poſſeſſions, which were declared forfeited to the crown.

Lord Oxford being confined in the Tower, he continued there for two years, during which time the nation was in a continual ferment, from an actual rebellion that was carried on unſucceſsfully. After the execution of ſome lords, who were taken in arms, the nation ſeemed glutted with blood, and that was the time that lord Oxford petitioned to be brought to his trial. He knew that the fury of the nation was ſpent on objects that were really culpable, and expected that his caſe would look like innocence itſelf, when compared to theirs. A day, therefore, at his own requeſt was aſſigned him, and the commons were ordered to prepare for their charge. At the appointed time the peers repaired to the court in Weſtminſter-hall, where lord Cowper preſided as lord high-ſteward. But a diſpute ariſing between the lords and commons, concerning the mode of his trial, the lords voted that the priſoner ſhould be ſet at liberty. To this diſpute he probably owed the ſecurity of his title and fortune, for as to the articles, importing him guilty of high treaſon, they were at once malignant and frivolous; ſo that his life was in no mannner of danger.

In the mean time theſe vindictive proceedings excited the indignation of the people, who perceived that the avenues to royal favour were cloſed againſt all but a faction. The flames of rebellion were actually kindled in Scotland. The earl of Mar aſſembling three hundred of his own vaſſals in the Highlands, proclaimed the pretender at Caſtletown, and ſet up his ſtandard at a place called Braemaer, aſſuming the title of lieutenant-general of his majeſty's [Page 299] forces. To ſecond theſe attempts, two veſſels arrived in Scotland from France, with arms, ammunition, and a number of officers, together with aſſurances to the earl, that the pretender himſelf would ſhortly come over to head his own forces. The earl, in conſequence of this promiſe, ſoon found himſelf at the head of ten thouſand men, well armed and provided.

The duke of Argyle, apprized of his intentions, and at any rate willing to prove his attachment to the preſent government, reſolved to give him battle in the neighbourhood of Dumblain, though his forces did not amount to half the number of the enemy. After an engagement which continued ſeveral hours, in the evening, both ſides drew off, and both ſides claimed the victory. Though the poſſeſſion of the field was kept by neither, yet certainly all the honour and all the advantages of the day belonged only to the duke of Argyle. It was ſufficient for him to have interrupted the progreſs of the enemy; for in their circumſtances, delay was defeat. The earl of Mar ſoon found his diſappointments and his loſſes encreaſe. The caſtle of Inverneſs, of which he was in poſſeſſion, was delivered up to the king by lord Lovat, who had hitherto profeſſed to act in the intereſt of the pretender. The marquis of Tullibardine forſook the earl, in order to defend his own part of the country; and many of the clans, ſeeing no likelihood of coming ſoon to a ſecond engagement, returned quietly home; for an irregular army is much eaſier led to battle than induced to bear the fatigues of a campaign.

In the mean time the rebellion was ſtill more unſucceſsfully proſecuted in England. From the time the pretender had undertaken this wild project at Paris, in which the duke of Ormond and lord Bolingbroke were engaged, lord Stair, the Engliſh ambaſſador there, had penetrated all his deſigns, and ſent faithful accounts of all his meaſures, and all [Page 300] his adherents, to the miniſtry at home. Upon the firſt rumour, therefore, of an inſurrection, they impriſoned ſeveral lords and gentlemen, of whom they had a ſuſpicion. The earls of Home, Wintown, and Kinnoul, and others, were committed to the caſtle of Edinburgh. The king obtained leave from the lower houſe to ſeize Sir William Wyndham, Sir John Packington, Harvey, Combe, and others. The lords Landſdown and Duplin were taken into cuſtody. Sir William Wyndham's father-in-law, the duke of Somerſet, offered to become bound for his appearance, but his ſurety was refuſed.

But all theſe precautions were not able to ſtop the inſurrection in the weſtern counties, where it was already begun. However, all their preparations were weak and ill conducted, every meaſure was betrayed to government as ſoon as projected, and many revolts repreſſed in the very outſet. The univerſity of Oxford was treated with great ſeverity on this occaſion. Major general Pepper, with a ſtrong detachment of dragoons, took poſſeſſion of the city at day break, declaring he would inſtantly ſhoot any of the ſtudents who ſhould preſume to appear without the limits of their reſpective colleges. The inſurrection in the northern counties came to greater maturity. [Note: A. D. 1715.] In the month of October the earl of Derwentwater and Mr. Forſter took the field with a body of horſe, and being joined by ſome gentlemen from the borders of Scotland, proclaimed the pretender. Their firſt attempt was to ſeize upon Newcaſtle, in which they had many friends, but they found the gates ſhut againſt them, and were obliged to retire to Hexham. To oppoſe theſe, general Carpenter was detached by government, with a body of nine hundred men, and an engagement was hourly expected. The rebels had proceeded, by the way of Kendal and Lancaſter, to Preſton, of which place they took poſſeſſion without [Page 301] any reſiſtance. But this was the laſt ſtage of their ill adviſed incurſion; for general Wills, at the head of ſeven thouſand men, came up to the town to attack them, and from his activity there was no eſcaping. They now, therefore, began to raiſe barricadoes, and to put the place in a poſture of defence, repulſing the firſt attack of the royal army with ſucceſs. Next day, however, Wills was reinforced by Carpenter, and the town was inveſted on all ſides. In this deplorable ſituation, to which they were reduced by their own raſhneſs, Forſter hoped to capitulate with the general, and accordingly ſent colonel Oxburgh, who had been taken priſoner, with a trumpeter, to propoſe a capitulation. This, however, Wills refuſed, alledging that he would not treat with rebels, and that the only favour they had to expect was to be ſpared from immediate ſlaughter. Theſe were hard terms, but no better could be obtained They accordingly laid down their arms, and were put under a ſtrong guard; all the noblemen and leaders were ſecured, and a few of their officers tried for deſerting from the royal army, and ſhot by order of a court-martial. The common men were impriſoned at Cheſter and Liverpool; the noblemen and conſiderable officers were ſent to London, and led through the ſtreets, pinioned and bound together, to intimidate their party.

The pretender might by this time have been convinced of the vanity of his expectations, in ſuppoſing that the whole country would riſe up in his cauſe. His affairs were actually deſperate; yet, with his uſual infatuation, he reſolved to hazard his perſon among his friends in Scotland, at a time when ſuch a meaſure was too late for ſucceſs. Paſſing, therefore, through France in diſguiſe, and embarking in a ſmall veſſel at Dunkirk, he arrived, after a voyage of a few days, on the coaſts of Scotland, with only ſix gentlemen in his train. He paſſed unknown [Page 302] through Aberdeen to Feteroſſe, where he was met by the earl of Mar, and about thirty noblemen and gentlemen of the firſt quality. There he was ſolemnly proclaimed. His declaration, dated at Commercy, was printed and diſperſed. He went from thence to Dundee, where he made a public entry, and in two days more he arrived at Scoon, where he intended to have the ceremony of his coronation performed. He ordered thankſgivings to be made for his ſafe arrival; he enjoined the miniſters to pray for him in their churches; and, without the ſmalleſt ſhare of power, went through the ceremonies of royalty, which threw an air of ridicule on all his conduct. Having thus ſpent ſome time in unimportant parade, he reſolved to abandon the enterprize with the ſame levity with which it was undertaken. Having made a ſpeech to his grand council, he informed them of his want of money, arms, and ammunition, for undertaking a campaign, and therefore deplored that he was compelled to leave them. He once more embarked on board a ſmall French ſhip that lay in the harbour of Montroſe, accompanied with ſeveral lords, his adherents, and in five days arrived at Graveline.

In this manner ended a rebellion which nothing but imbecility could project, and nothing but raſhneſs could ſupport. But though the enemy was now no more, the fury of the victors did not ſeem in the leaſt to abate with ſucceſs. The law was now put in force with all its terrors; and the priſons of London were crowded with thoſe deluded wretches, whom the miniſtry ſeemed reſolved not to pardon. The commons, in their addreſs to the crown, declared they would proſecute, in the moſt rigorous manner, the authors of the late rebellion. In conſequence of which the earls of Derwentwater, Nithiſdale, Carnwarth, and Wintown, the lords Widrington, Kenmuir, and Nairne were impeached, [Page 303] and upon pleading guilty, all but lord Wintown, received ſentence of death. No entreaties could ſoften the miniſtry to ſpare theſe unhappy men.

Orders were diſpatched for executing the lords Derwentwater, Nithiſdale, and Kenmuir immediately; the reſt were reſpited to a farther time. Nithiſdale, however, had the good fortune to eſcape in woman's cloaths, which were brought him by his mother the night before his execution. Derwentwater and Kenmuir were brought to the ſcaffold on Tower-hill at the time appointed. Both underwent their ſentence with calm intrepidity, pitied by all, and ſeemingly leſs moved themſelves than thoſe who beheld them.

In the beginning of April commiſſioners for trying the rebels met in the court of common pleas, when the bills were found againſt Mr. Forſter, Mr. Mackintoſh, and twenty of their confederates.

Forſter eſcaped from Newgate, and reached the continent in ſafety, the reſt pleaded not guilty. Pitts, the keeper of Newgate, being ſuſpected of having connived at Forſter's eſcape, was tried for his life, but acquitted. Yet, notwithſtanding this, Mackintoſh and ſeveral other priſoners broke from Newgate, after having maſtered the keeper and turn key, and diſarmed the centinel. The court proceeded to the trial of thoſe that remained; four or five were hanged, drawn, and quartered, at Tyburn; two and twenty were executed at Preſton and Mancheſter; and about a thouſand priſoners experienced the king's mercy, if ſuch it might be called, to be tranſported to North America.

A rupture with Spain, which enſued ſome time after, ſerved once more to raiſe the declining expectations of the pretender and his adherents. It was hoped that, by the aſſiſtance of cardinal Alberoni, the Spaniſh miniſter, a new inſurrection might be excited in England. The duke of Ormond was the [Page 304] perſon fixed upon to conduct this expedition; and he obtained from the Spaniſh court a fleet of ten ſhips of war and tranſports, having on board ſix thouſand regular troops, with arms for twelve thouſand more. But fortune was ſtill as unfavourable as ever. Having ſet ſail, and proceeded as far as cape Finiſterre, he was encountered by a violent ſtorm, which diſabled his fleet, and fruſtrated the expedition. This misfortune, together with the bad ſucceſs of the Spaniſh arms in Sicily, and other parts of Europe, induced Philip to wiſh for peace; and he at laſt conſented to ſign the quadruple alliance. This was at that time thought an immenſe acquiſition, but England, though ſhe procured the ratification, had no ſhare in the advantage of the treaty.

It was about this time that one John Law, a Scotchman, [Note: A. D. 1721.] had cheated France, by erecting a company under the name of the Miſſiſippi, which promiſed that deluded people great wealth, but which ended in involving the French nation in great diſtreſs. It was now that the people of England were deceived by a project entirely ſimilar, which is remembered by the name of the South-ſea ſcheme, and which was felt long after by thouſands. To explain this as conciſely as poſſible, it is to be obſerved, that ever ſince the revolution under king William, the government not having ſufficient ſupplies granted by parliament, or what was granted requiring time to be, collected, they were obliged to borrow money from ſeveral different companies of merchants, and, among the reſt, from that company which traded to the South ſea. The South-ſea company having made up their debt to the government ten millions, inſtead of ſix hundred thouſand pounds, which they uſually received as intereſt, were ſatisfied with five hundred thouſand.

It was in this ſituation of things that one Blount, who had been bred a ſcrivener, and was poſſeſſed of [Page 305] all the cunning and plauſibility requiſite for ſuch an undertaking, propoſed to the miniſtry, in the name of the South-ſea company, to buy up all the debts of the different companies of merchants, and thus to become the ſole creditor of the ſtate. The terms he offered to government were extremely advantageous. The South-ſea company was to redeem the debts of the nation out of the hands of the private proprietors, who were creditors to the government, upon whatever terms they could agree on; and for the intereſt of this money, which they had thus redeemed, and taken into their own hands, they would be contented to be allowed by government, for ſix years, five per cent. then the intereſt ſhould be reduced to four per cent. and ſhould at any time be redeemable by parliament. But now came the part of the ſcheme big with fraud and ruin. As the directors of the South-ſea company could not of themſelves be ſuppoſed to poſſeſs money ſufficient to buy up the debts of the nation, they were empowered to raiſe it by opening a ſubſcription to a ſcheme for trading in the South-ſeas, from which commerce immenſe ideal advantages were promiſed by the cunning directors, and ſtill greater expected by the rapacious credulity of the people. All people, therefore, who were creditors to government, were invited to come in, and exchange their ſtock for that of the South-ſea company.

The directors books were no ſooner opened for the firſt ſubſcription, but crowds came to make the exchange of their other ſtock for South-ſea ſtock. The deluſion was artfully continued and ſpread. Subſcriptions in a few days ſold for double the price they had been bought at. The ſcheme ſucceeded even beyond the projectors hopes, and the whole nation was infected with a ſpirit of avaricious enterprize. The infatuation prevailed; the ſtock encreaſed to a [Page 306] ſurpriſing degree, and to near ten times the value of what it was firſt ſubſcribed for.

After a few months, however, the people waked from their dream of riches, and found that all the advantages they expected were merely imaginary, while thouſands of families were involved in one common ruin.

The principal delinquents were puniſhed by parliament with a forfeiture of all ſuch poſſeſſions and eſtates as they had acquired during the continuance of this popular frenzy, and ſome care was alſo taken to redreſs the ſufferers.

The diſcontents occaſioned by theſe public calamities once more gave the diſaffected party hopes of ſucceeding. But in all their counſels they were weak, divided, and wavering.

The firſt perſon who was ſeized upon ſuſpicion was Francis Atterbury, biſhop of Rocheſter, a prelate long obnoxious to the preſent government, and poſſeſſed of abilities to render him formidable to any miniſtry he oppoſed. His papers were ſeized, and he himſelf confined to the tower. Soon after the duke of Norfolk, the earl of Orrery, the lord North and Grey, and ſome others of inferior rank, were arreſted and impriſoned. Of all theſe, however, only the biſhop, who was baniſhed, and one Mr. Layer, who was hanged at Tyburn, felt the ſeverity of government, the proofs againſt the reſt amounting to no convictive evidence.

The commons about this time finding many abuſes had crept into the court of chancery, which either impeded juſtice, or rendered it venal, they reſolved to impeach the chancellor Thomas, earl of Maccleſfield, at the bar of the houſe of lords, for high crimes and miſdemeanors. This was one of the moſt laborious and beſt conteſted trials in the annals of England. The trial laſted twenty days. The earl proved that the ſums he received for the ſale of places in [Page 307] chancery had been uſually received by former lord chancellors, and reaſon told that ſuch receipts were contrary to ſtrict juſtice. Equity, therefore, prevailed above precedent; the earl was convicted of fraudulent practices, and condemned to a fine of thirty thouſand pounds, with impriſonment until that ſum ſhould be paid, which was accordingly diſcharged in about ſix weeks after.

In this manner, the corruption, venality, and avarice of the times, had encreaſed with the riches and luxury of the nation. Commerce introduced fraud, and wealth introduced prodigality.

It muſt be owned that the parliament made ſome new efforts to check the progreſs of vice and immorality, which now began to be diffuſed through every rank of life. But they were ſupported neither by the co-operation of the miniſtry, nor the voice of the people.

It was now two years ſince the king had viſited his electoral dominions of Hanover. He, therefore, ſoon after the breaking up of the parliament, prepared for a journey thither. [Note: A. D. 1727.] Having appointed a regency in his abſence, he embarked for Holland, and lay, upon his landing, at a little town called Voet. Next day he proceeded on his journey, and in two days more, between ten and eleven at night, arrived at Delden, to all appearance in perfect health. He ſupped there very heartily, and continued his progreſs early the next morning, but between eight and nine ordered his coach to ſtop. It being perceived that one of his hands lay motionleſs, monſieur Fabrice, who had formerly been ſervant to the king of Sweden, and who now attended king George, attempted to quicken the circulation, by chafing it between his own. As this had no effect, the ſurgeon who followed on horſeback, was called, and he alſo rubbed it with ſpirits. Soon after the king's tongue began to ſwell, and he had juſt ſtrength enough to bid them [Page 308] haſten to Oſnaburgh. Then falling inſenſible into Fabrice's arms, he never recovered, but expired about eleven o'clock the next morning, in the ſixty-eighth year of his age, and the thirteenth of his reign.


UPON the death of George the firſt, his ſon, George the Second, came to the crown; a man of inferior abilities to the late king, and ſtrongly biaſſed with a partiality to his dominions on the continent. The chief perſon, and he who ſhortly after engroſſed the greateſt ſhare of power under him, was Sir Robert Walpole, who had riſen from low beginnings, through two ſucceſſive reigns into great conſideration. He was conſidered as a martyr to his cauſe, in the reign of queen Anne; and when the Tory party could no longer oppreſs him, he ſtill preſerved that hatred againſt them with which he ſet out. To defend the declining prerogative of the crown, might perhaps have been the firſt object of his attention; but ſoon after thoſe very meaſures by which he pretended to ſecure it, proved the moſt effectual means to leſſen it. By corrupting the houſe of commons, he encreaſed their riches and their power; and they were not averſe to voting away thoſe millions which he permitted them ſo liberally to ſhare. As ſuch a tendency in him naturally produced oppoſition, he was poſſeſſed of a moſt phlegmatic inſenſibility to reproach, and a calm diſpaſſionate manner of reaſoning upon ſuch topics as he deſired ſhould be believed. His diſcourſe was fluent, but without dignity; and his manner convincing from its apparent want of art.

[Page 309] The Spaniards were the firſt nation who ſhewed the futility of the treaties of the former reign to bind, when any advantage was to be procured by infraction. The people of our Weſt-India iſlands, had long carried on an illicit trade with the ſubjects of Spain upon the continent, but whenever detected were rigorouſly puniſhed and their cargoes confiſcated to the crown. In this temerity of adventure on the one hand, and vigilance of purſuit and puniſhment on the other, it muſt often have happened that the innocent muſt ſuffer with the guilty, and many complaints were made, perhaps founded in juſtice, that the Engliſh merchants were plundered by the Spaniſh king's veſſels upon the ſouthern coaſts of America, as if they had been pirates.

The Engliſh miniſtry, unwilling to credit every report, which was enflamed by reſentment, or urged by avarice, expected to remedy the evils complained of by their favourite ſyſtem of treaty, and in the mean time promiſed the nation redreſs. At length, however the complaints became more general, and the merchants remonſtrated by petition, to the houſe of commons, who entered into a deliberation on the ſubject. They examined the evidence of ſeveral who had been unjuſtly ſeized, and treated with great cruelty. One man, the maſter of a trading veſſel, had been uſed by the Spaniards in the moſt ſhocking manner; he gave in his evidence with great preciſion, informed the houſe of the manner they had plundered and ſtript him, of their cutting off his ears, and their preparing to put him to death. "I then looked up, cried he, to my God for pardon, and to my country for revenge."

Theſe accounts raiſed a flame among the people, which it was neither the miniſter's intereſt, nor perhaps that of the nation to indulge; new negotiations were ſet on foot, and new mediators offered their interpoſition. A treaty was ſigned at Vienna, between the emperor, the king of Great Britain, and the king [Page 310] of Spain, which ſettled the peace of Europe upon its former footing, and put off the threatening war for a time. By this treaty the king of England conceived hopes that all war would be at an end. Don Carlos, upon the death of the duke of Parma, was, by the aſſiſtance of an Engliſh fleet, put in peaceable poſſeſſion of Parma and Placentia, while ſix thouſand Spaniards were quietly admitted, and quartered in the duchy of Tuſcany, to ſecure for him the reverſion of that dukedom.

An interval of peace ſucceeded, in which ſcarce any events happened that deſerve the remembrance of an hiſtorian.

During this interval of profound peace, nothing remarkable happened, and ſcarce any conteſt enſued except in the Britiſh parliament, where the diſputes between the court and country party were carried-on with unceaſing animoſity.

[Note: A. D. 1731.]A ſociety of men in this intereſted age of ſeeming benevolence, had united themſelves into a company, by the name of the Charitable Corporation; and their profeſſed intention was to lend money at legal intereſt to the poor, upon ſmall pledges, and to perſons of higher rank upon proper ſecurity. Their capital was at firſt limited to thirty thouſand pounds, but they afterwards increaſed it to ſix hundred thouſand. This money was ſupplied by ſubſcription, and the care of conducting the capital was intruſted to a proper number of directors. This company having continued for more than twenty years, the caſhier, George Robinſon, member for Marlow, and the warehouſe-keeper, John Thompſon, diſappeared in one day. Five hundred thouſand pounds of capital was found to be ſunk and embezzled by means which the proprietors could not diſcover. They therefore, in a petition, repreſented to the houſe the manner in which they had been defrauded, and the diſtreſs to which many of the petitioners [Page 311] were reduced. A ſecret committee being appointed to examine into this grievance, a moſt iniquitous ſcene of fraud was ſoon diſcovered which had been carried on by Robinſon and Thompſon, in concert with ſome of the directors, for embezzling the capital and cheating the proprietors. Many perſons of rank and quality were concerned in this infamous conſpiracy; and even ſome of the firſt characters in the nation did not eſcape cenſure. A ſpirit of avarice and rapacity had infected every rank of life about this time; no leſs than ſix members of parliament were expelled for the moſt fordid acts of knavery. Sir Robert Sutton, Sir Archibald Grant, and George Robinſon, for their frauds in the management of the Charitable Corporation ſcheme; Dennis Bond, and ſergeant Burch, for a fraudulent ſale of the late unfortunate earl of Derwentwater's large eſtate, and laſtly, John Ward, of Hackney, for forgery. Luxury had given birth to prodigality, and that was the parent of the meaneſt arts of peculation. It was aſſerted in the houſe of lords, at that time, that not one ſhilling of the forfeited eſtates was ever applied to the ſervice of the public, but became the reward of fraudulence and venality.

A ſcheme ſet on foot by Sir Robert Walpole ſoon after engroſſed the attention of the public, [Note: A. D. 1732.] which was to ſix a general exciſe. The miniſter introduced it into the houſe, by going into a detail of the frauds practiſed by the factors in London, who were employed by the American planters in ſelling their tobacco. To prevent theſe frauds he propoſed, that inſtead of having the cuſtoms levied in the uſual manner upon tobacco, all herereafter to be imported ſhould be lodged in warehouſes appointed for that purpoſe by the officers of the crown, and ſhould from thence be ſold, upon paying the duty of four-pence a pound, when the proprietor found a purchaſer. This propoſal raiſed a violent [Page 312] ferment, not leſs within doors than without. It was aſſerted that it would expoſe the factors to ſuch hardſhips that they would be unable to continue their trade, and that ſuch a ſcheme would not even prevent the frauds complained of. It was added, that a number of additional exciſemen and warehouſe-keepers would thus be employed, which would at once render the miniſtry formidable, and the people dependent. Such were the arguments made uſe of to ſtir up the citizens to oppoſe this law; arguments rather ſpecious than ſolid, ſince, with all its diſadvantages, the tax upon tobacco would thus be more ſafely and expeditiouſly collected, and the avenues to numberleſs frauds would be ſhut up. The people, however, were raiſed into ſuch a ferment, that the parliament houſe was ſurrounded with multitudes, who intimidated the miniſtry, and compelled them to drop the deſign. The miſcarriage of the bill was celebrated with public rejoicings in London and Weſtminſter, and the miniſter was burned in effigy by the populace of London.

Ever ſince the treaty of Utrecht, the Spaniards in America had inſulted and diſtreſſed the commerce of Great Britain, and the Britiſh merchants had attempted to carry on an illicit trade into their domiminions. A right which the Engliſh merchants claimed by treaty, of cutting log-wood in the bay of Campeachy, gave them frequent opportunities of puſhing in contraband commodities upon the continent; ſo that to ſuppreſs the evil, the Spaniards were reſolved to annihilate the claim. This liberty of cutting log-wood had often been acknowledged, but never clearly aſcertained; in all former treaties, it was conſidered as an object of too little importance to make a ſeparate article in any negociation. The Spaniſh veſſels appointed for protecting the coaſt continued their ſeverities upon the Engliſh; many of the ſubjects of Britain were ſent to dig in the mines [Page 313] of Potoſi, and deprived of all means of conveying their complaints to thoſe who might ſend them redreſs. One remonſtrance followed another to the court of madrid of this violation of treaty; but the only anſwer given were promiſes of enquiry, which produced no reformation. Our merchants complained loudly of thoſe outrages; but the miniſter vainly expected from negociations that redreſs, which was only to be obtained by arms.

The fears diſcovered by the court of Great Britain only ſerved to encreaſe the inſolence of the enemy; and their guard ſhips continued to ſeize not only all the guilty, but the innocent, whom they found ſailing along the Spaniſh main. At laſt, however, the complaints of the Engliſh merchants were loud enough to intereſt the houſe of commons; their letters and memorials were produced, and their grievances enforced by council at the bar of the houſe. It was ſoon found that the money which Spain had agreed to pay to the court of Great Britain was withheld, and no reaſon aſſigned for the delay. The miniſter, therefore, to gratify the general ardour, and to atone for his former deficiencies, aſſured the houſe that he would put the nation into a condition for war. Soon after letters of repriſal were granted againſt the Spaniards, and this being on both ſides conſidered as an actual commencement of hoſtilities, both diligently ſet forward their armaments by ſea and land. In this threatening ſituation the French miniſter at the Hague declared that his maſter was obliged by treaty to aſſiſt the king of Spain; ſo that the alliances, which but twenty years before had taken place, were now quite reverſed. At that time France and England were combined againſt Spain; at preſent, France and Spain were united againſt England; ſuch little hopes can ſtateſmen place upon the firmeſt treaties, where there is no ſuperior power to compel the obſervance.

[Page 314] A rupture between England and Spain being now become unavoidable, the people, who had long clamoured for war, began to feel uncommon alacrity at its approach; and the miniſtry, finding it inevitable, began to be as earneſt in preparation. Orders were iſſued for augmenting the land forces, [Note: A. D. 1739.] and raiſing a body of marines. War was declared with all proper ſolemnity, and ſoon after two rich Spaniſh prizes were taken in the Mediterranean. Admiral Vernon, a man of more courage than experience, of more confidence than ſkill, was ſent commander of a fleet into the Weſt Indies, to diſtreſs the enemy in that part of the globe. He had aſſerted in the houſe of Commons that Porto Bello, a ſort and harbour in South America, could be eaſily deſtroyed, and that he himſelf would undertake to reduce it with ſix ſhips only. A project which appeared ſo wild and impoſſible, was rediculed by the miniſtry; but as he ſtill inſiſted upon the propoſal, they complied with his requeſt, hoping that his want of ſucceſs might repreſs the confidence of his party. In this, however, they were diſappointed; for with ſix ſhips only, he attacked and demoliſhed all the fortifications of the place, and came away victorious, with ſcarce the loſs of a man. This victory was magnified at home in all the ſtrains of panegyric, and the triumph was far ſuperior to the value of the conqueſt.

While vigorous preparations were making in other departments, a ſquadron of ſhips was equipped for diſtreſſing the enemy in the South Seas, the command of which was given to commodore Anſon. This fleet was deſtined to ſail through the ſtreights of Magellan, and ſteering northwards along the coaſts of Chili and Peru, to co-operate occaſionally with admiral Vernon acroſs the iſthmus of Darien. The delays and miſtakes of the miniſtry fruſtrated that part of the ſcheme, which was originally well laid. When [Page 315] it was too late in the ſeaſon, the commodore ſet out with five ſhips of the line, a frigate, and two ſtoreſhips, with about fourteen hundred men. Having reached the coaſts of Brazil, he refreſhed his men for ſome time on the iſland of St Catharine, a ſpot that enjoys all the fruitfulneſs and verdure of the luxurious tropical climate. From thence he ſteered downward into the cold and tempeſtuous regions of the ſouth; and in about five months after, meeting a terrible tempeſt, he doubled Cape Horn. By this time his fleet was diſperſed, and his crew deplorably diſabled with the ſcurvy; ſo that with much difficulty he gained the delightful iſland of Juan Fernandez. There he was joined by one ſhip, and a frigate of ſeven guns. From thence advancing northward, he landed on the coaſt of Chili, and attacked the city of of Paita by night. In this bold attempt he made no uſe of his ſhipping, nor even diſembarked all his men; a few ſoldiers, favoured by darkneſs, ſufficed to fill the whole town with terror and confuſion. The governor of the garriſon, and the inhabitants fled on all ſides; accuſtomed to be ſevere, they expected ſeverity. In the mean time, a ſmall body of the Engliſh kept poſſeſſion of the town for three days, ſtripping it of all its treaſures and merchandiſe to a conſiderable amount, and then ſetting it on fire.

Soon after this ſmall ſquadron advanced as far as Panama, ſituated on the iſthmus of Darien, on the weſtern ſide of the great American continent. The commodore now placed all his hopes in taking one of thoſe valuable Spaniſh ſhips, which trade from the Philippine Iſlands to Mexico. Not above one or two at the moſt of theſe immenſely rich ſhips went from one continent to the other in a year; they were therefore very large, in order to carry a ſufficiency of treaſure, and proportionably ſtrong to defend it. In hopes of meeting with one of theſe, the commocore, with his little fleet, traverſed the great Pacific Ocean; but the ſcurvyonce more viſiting [Page 316] his crew, ſeveral of his men died, and almoſt all were diſabled. In this exigence having brought all his men into one veſſel, and ſet fire to the other, he ſteered for the iſland of Tinian, which lies about half way between the new world and the old. In this charming abode he continued for ſome time, till his men recovered their health, and his ſhip was refitted for ſailing.

Thus refreſhed he ſet forward for China, where he laid in proper ſtores for once more traverſing back that immenſe ocean in which he had juſt before ſuffered ſuch incredible difficulties. Having accordingly taken ſome Dutch and Indian ſailors on board, he again ſteered towards America, and at length after various toils, diſcovered the Spaniſh galleon he had ſo long ardently expected. This veſſel was built as well for the purpoſes of war as of merchandiſe. It mounted ſixty guns, and five hundred men, while the crew of the commodore did not amount to half that number. However the victory was on the ſide of the Engliſh, and they returned home with their valuable prize, which was eſtimated at three hundred and thirteen thouſand pounds ſterling, while the different captures that had been made before amounted to as much more. Thus after a voyage of three years, conducted with aſtoniſhing perſeverance and intrepidity, the public ſuſtained the loſs of a noble fleet; but a few individuals became poſſeſſed of immenſe riches.

In the mean time the Engliſh conducted other operations againſt the enemy with amazing activity. When Anſon ſet out it was with a deſign of acting a ſubordinate part to a formidable armament deſigned for the coaſts of New Spain, conſiſting of twenty-nine ſhips of the line, and almoſt an equal number of frigates, furniſhed with all kinds of warlike ſtores, near fifteen thouſand ſeamen, and as many land-forces. Never was a fleet more completely equipped, nor never had the nation more ſanguine hopes of ſucceſs. [Page 317] Lord Carthcart was appointed to command the land-forces; but he dying on the paſſage, the command devolved upon general Wentworth, whoſe abilities were ſuppoſed to be unequal to the truſt repoſed in him.

When the forces were landed at Carthagena, they erected a battery, with which they made a breach in the principal fort, while Vernon, who commanded the fleet, ſent a number of ſhips into the harbour, to divide the fire of the enemy, and to co-operate with the army on ſhore. The breach being deemed practicable, a body of troops were commanded to ſtorm; but the Spaniards deſerted the forts, which, if poſſeſſed of courage, they might have defended with ſucceſs. The troops, upon gaining this advantage, were advanced a good deal nearer the city; but they there met a much greater oppoſition than they had expected. It was found, or aſſerted, that the fleet could not lie near enough to batter the town, and that nothing remained but to attempt one of the forts by ſealing. The leaders of the fleet and the army began mutually to accuſe each other, each aſſerting the probability of what the other denied. At length, Wentworth▪ ſtimulated by the admiral's reproach, reſolved to try the dangerous experiment, and ordered that fort St. Lazare ſhould be attempted by ſcalade. Nothing could be more unfortunate than this undertaking; the forces marching up to the attack, their guides were ſlain, and they miſtook their way. Inſtead of attempting the weakeſt part of the fort, they advanced to where it was ſtrongeſt, and where they were expoſed to the fire of the town. Colonel Grant, who commanded the grenadiers, was killed in the beginning. Soon after it was found that their ſcaling ladders were too ſhort; the officers were perplexed for want of orders, and the troops ſtood expoſed to the whole fire of the enemy, without knowing how to proceed. After bearing a dreadful fire for [Page 318] ſome hours with great intrepidity, they at length retreated, leaving ſix hundred men dead on the ſpot. The terrors of the climate ſoon began to be more dreadful than thoſe of war; the rainy ſeaſon came on with ſuch violence, that it was impoſſible for the troops to continue encamped; and the mortality of the ſeaſon now began to attack them in all its frightful varieties. To theſe calamities, ſufficient to quell any enterprize, was added the diſſention between the land and ſea commanders, who blamed each other for every failure, and became frantic with mutual recrimination. They only, therefore, at laſt could be brought to agree in one mortifying meaſure, which was to reimbark the troops, and to withdraw them as quick as poſſible from this ſcence of ſlaughter and contagion.

This fatal miſcarriage which tarniſhed the Britiſh glory, was no ſooner known in England, than the kingdom was filled with murmers and diſcontent. The loudeſt burſt of indignation was directed at the miniſter; and they who once praiſed him for ſucceſſes he did not merit, condemned him now for a failure, of which he was guiltleſs.

[Note: A. D. 1741.]The miniſter finding the indignation of the houſe of commons turned againſt him, tried every art to break that confederacy, which he knew he had not ſtrength to oppoſe. The reſentment of the people had been raiſed againſt him to an extravagant height; and their leaders taught them to expect very ſignal juſtice on their ſuppoſed oppreſſor. At length finding his poſt untenable, he declared he would never ſit more in that houſe: the next day the king adjourned both houſes of parliament for a few days, and in the interim Sir Robert Walpole, was created earl of Orford, and reſigned all his employments.

But the pleaſure of his defeat was of ſhort duration; it ſoon appeared that thoſe who declaimed moſt [Page 319] loudly for the liberties of the people had adopted new meaſures with their new employments. The new converts were branded as betrayers of the intereſts of their country; but particularly the reſentment of the people fell upon Pulteney earl of Bath, who had long declaimed againſt that very conduct he now ſeemed earneſt to purſue. He had been the idol of the people, and conſidered as one of the moſt illuſtrious champions that had ever defended the cauſe of freedom; but allured perhaps with the hope of governing in Walpole's place, he was contented to give up his popularity for ambition. The king, however, treated him with that neglect which he merited: he was laid aſide for life, and continued a wretched ſurvivor of all his former importance.

The emperor dying in the year 1740, the French began to think this a favourable opportunity for exerting their ambition once more. Regardleſs of treaties, particularly that called the pragmatic ſanction, by which the reverſion of all the late emperor's dominions was ſettled upon his daughter, they cauſed the elector of Bavaria to be crowned emperor. Thus the queen of Hungary, daughter of Charles the Sixth, deſcened from an illuſtrious line of emperors, ſaw herſelf ſtripped of her inheritance, and left for a whole year deſerted by all Europe, and without any hopes of ſuccour. She had ſcarce cloſed her father's eyes, when ſhe loſt Sileſia, by an irruption of the young king of Pruſſia, who ſeized the opportunity of her defenceleſs ſtate to renew his ancient pretentions to that province, of which it muſt be owned his anceſtors had been unjuſtly deprived. France, Saxony, and Bavaria, attacked the reſt of her dominions; England was the only ally that ſeemed willing to eſpouſe her helpleſs condition. Sardinia, and Holland, ſoon after came to her aſſiſtance, and laſt of all Ruſſia acceded to the union in her favour.

[Page 320] It may now be demanded, what cauſe Britain had to intermeddle in theſe continental ſchemes. It can only be anſwered, that the intereſts of Hanover, and the ſecurity of that electorate, depended upon the nicely balancing the different intereſts of the empire; and the Engliſh miniſtry were willing to gratify the king.

Accordingly the king ſent a body of Engliſh forces into the Netherlands, which he had augmented by ſixteen thouſand Hanoverians, to make a diverſion upon the dominions of France, in the queen of Hungary's favour. And by the aſſiſtance of theſe the queen of Hungary ſoon began to turn the ſcale of victory on her ſide. The French were driven out of Bohemia. Her general, prince Charles, at the head of a large army, invaded the dominions of Bavaria. Her rival, the nominal emperor, was obliged to fly before her; and being abandoned by his allies, and ſtripped of even his hereditary dominions, retired to Franckfort, where he lived in obſcurity.

The French, in order to prevent this junction of the Auſtrian and Britiſh forces, aſſembled an army of ſixty thouſand men upon the river Mayne, under the command of marſhal Noailles, [Note: A. D. 1743.] who poſted his troops upon the eaſt ſide of that river. The Britiſh forces, to the number of forty thouſand, puſhed forward on the other ſide into a country where they found themſelves entirely deſtitute of proviſions, the French having cut off all means of their being ſupplied. The king of England arrived at the camp, while his army was in this deplorable ſituation, wherefore he reſolved to penetrate forward to join twelve thouſand Hanoverians and Heſſians, who had reached Hannau. With this view he decamped; but before his army had marched three leagus, he found the enemy had encloſed him on every ſide, near a village called Dettingen.

[Page 321] Nothing now preſented but the moſt mortifying proſpects; if he fought the enemy, it muſt be at the greateſt diſadvantage; if he continued inactive, there was a certainty of being ſtarved; and retreat for all was impoſſible. The impetuoſity of the French troops ſaved his whole army. They paſſed a defile, which they ſhould have been contended to guard; and, under the conduct of the duke of Gramont, their horſe charged the Engliſh foot with great fury. They were received with intrepidity and reſolution; ſo that they were obliged to give way, and repaſs the Mayne with precipitation, with the loſs of about five thouſand men.

Mean while the French went on with vigour on every ſide. They projected an invaſion of England; and Charles, the ſon of the old Pretender, departed from Rome, in the diſguiſe of a Spaniſh courier, for Paris, where he had an audience of the French king.

This family had long been the dupes of France; but it was thought at preſent there were ſerious reſolutions formed in their favour. The troops deſtined for the expedition amounted to fifteen thouſand men, preparations were made for embarking them at Dunkirk, and ſome of the neareſt ports to England, under the eye of the young Pretender. The duke de Roquefeuille, with twenty ſhips of the line, was to ſee them ſafely landed in England, and the famous count Saxe was to command them, when put on ſhore. But the whole project was diſconcerted by the appearance of Sir John Norris, who, with a ſuperior fleet, made up to attack them. The French fleet was thus obliged to put back; a very hard gale of wind damaged their tranſports beyond redreſs; and the French, now fruſtrated in their ſcheme of a ſudden deſcent, thought ſit openly to declare war.

The French, therefore, entered upon the war with great alacrity. They beſieged Fribourg, and in the beginning of the ſucceeding campaign inveſted the [Page 322] ſtrong city of Tournay. Although the allies were inferior in number, and although commanded by the duke of Cumberland, yet they reſolved, if poſſible, to ſave this city by hazarding a battle. They accordingly marched againſt the enemy, and took poſt in ſight of the French, who were encamped on an eminence, the village of St. Antoine on the right, a wood on the left, and the town of Fontenoy before them. This advantageous ſituation did not repreſs the ardour of the Engliſh, who began the attack at two o'clock in the morning, and preſſing forward bore down all oppoſition. They were for near an hour victorious, and confident of ſucceſs, while Saxe, a ſoldier of fortune, who commanded the French army, was at that time ſick of the ſame diſorder of which he afterwards died. However he was carried about to all the poſts in a litter, and aſſured his attendants that, notwithſtanding all unfavourable appearances, the day was his own. A column of the Engliſh, without any command, but by mere mechanical courage, had advanced upon the enemies lines, which opening, formed an avenue on each ſide to receive them. It was then that the French artillery on the three ſides began to play on this forlorn body, which though they continued for a long time unſhaken, were obliged at laſt to retreat about three in the afternoon. This was one of the moſt bloody battles that had been fought in this age; the allies left on the field of battle near twelve thouſand men, and the French bought their victory with near an equal number of ſlain.

This blow, by which Tournay was taken by the French, gave them ſuch a manifeſt ſuperiority all the reſt of the campaign, that they kept the fruits of their victory during the whole continuance of the war.

[Note: A. D. 1745.]But tho' bad ſucceſs attended the Britiſh arms by land and ſea, yet theſe being diſtant evils, the Engliſh ſeemed only to complain from honourable motives, and murmured [Page 323] at diſtreſſes, of which they had but a very remote proſpect. A civil war was now going to be kindled in their own dominions, which mixed terrors with their complaints; and which while it encreaſed their perplexities, only cemented their union.

It was at this period that the ſon of the old Pretender reſolved to make an effort for gaining the Britiſh crown. Charles Edward, the adventurer in queſtion, had been bred in a luxurious court, without partaking in its effeminacy. He was enterprizing and ambitious; but either from inexperience, or natural inability, utterly unequal to the bold undertaking. He was long flattered by the raſh, the ſuperſtitious, and the needy; he was taught to believe that the kingdom was ripe for a revolt, and that it could no longer bear the immenſe load of taxes with which it was burthened.

Being now, therefore, furniſhed with ſome money, and with ſtill larger promiſes from France, who fanned his ambition, he embarked for Scotland on board a ſmall frigate, accompanied by the marquis of Tullibardine, Sir Thomas Sheridan, and a few other deſparate adventurers. Thus for the conqueſt of the whole Britiſh empire, he only brought with him ſeven officers, and arms for two thouſand men.

The boldneſs of this enterprize aſtoniſhed all Europe. It awakened the fears of the puſilanimous, the ardour of the brave, and the pity of the wiſe.

But by this time the young adventurer was arrived at Perth, where the unneceſſary ceremony was performed of proclaiming his father king of Great Britain. From thence, deſcending with his forces from the mountains, they ſeemed to gather as they went forward; and advancing to Edinburgh, they entered that city without oppoſition. There again the pageanty of proclamation was performed; and there he promiſed to diſſolve the union, which was conſidered as one of the grievances of the country. However, [Page 324] the caſtle of that city ſtill held out, and he was unprovided with cannon to beſiege it.

In the mean time, Sir John Cope, who had purſued the rebels through the Highlands, but had declined meeting them in their deſcent; being now reinforced by two regiments of dragoons, reſolved to march towards Edinburgh, and give the enemy battle. The young adventurer, whoſe forces were rather ſuperior, though undiſciplined, attacked him near Preſton Pans, about twelve miles from the capital, and in a few minutes put him and his troops to flight. This victory, by which the king loſt five hundred men, gave the rebels great influence; and had the Pretender taken advantage of the general conſternation, and marched directly for England, the conſequence might have been fatal to freedom. But he was amuſed by the promiſe of ſuccours which never came; and thus induced to remain in Edinburgh, to enjoy the triumphs of a trifling victory, and to be treated as a monarch.

While the young Pretender was thus trifling away his time at Edinburgh, for, in dangerous enterprizes, delay is but defeat, the miniſtry of Great Britain took every proper precaution to oppoſe him with ſucceſs. Six thouſand Dutch troops, that had come over to the aſſiſtance of the crown, were diſpatched northward, under the command of general Wade. The duke of Cumberland ſoon after arrived from Flanders, and was followed by another detachment of dragoons and infantry, well diſciplined, and enured to action. Beſides theſe, volunteers offered in every part of the kingdom; and every county exerted a vigorous ſpirit of indignation both againſt the ambition, the religion, and the allies of the young Pretender.

However, he had been bred up in a ſchool that taught him maxims very different from thoſe that then prevailed in England. Though he might have brought civil war and all the calamities attending it [Page 325] with him into the kingdom, he had been taught the aſſertion of his right was a duty incumbent upon him, and the altering the conſtitution and perhaps the religion of his country, an object of laudable ambition. Thus animated he went forward with vigour, and having upon frequent conſultations with his officers, come to a reſolution of making an irruption into England, he entered the country by the weſtern border, and inveſted Carliſle, which ſurrendered in leſs than three days. He there found a conſiderable quantity of arms, and there too he cauſed his father to be proclaimed king.

General Wade being apprized of his progreſs, advanced acroſs the country from the oppoſite ſhore, but receiving intelligence that the enemy was two days march before him, he retired to his former ſtation. The young Pretender, therefore, thus unoppoſed, reſolved to penetrate farther into the kingdom, having received aſſurances from France that a conſiderable body of troops would be landed on the ſouthern coaſts, to make a diverſion in his favour. He was flattered alſo with the hopes of being joined by a conſiderable number of malcontents, as he paſſed forward, and that his army would encreaſe on the march. Accordingly, leaving a ſmall garriſon in Carliſle, which he ſhould rather have left defenceleſs, he advanced to Penrith, marching on foot in an Highland dreſs, and continuing his irruption till he came to Mancheſter, where he eſtabliſhed his head-quarters.

He was there joined by about two hundred Engliſh, who were formed into a regiment, under the command of colonel Townly. From thence he purſued his march to Derby, intending to go by the way of Cheſter into Wales, where he hoped to be joined by a great number of followers; but the factions among his own chiefs prevented his proceeding to that part of the kingdom.

He was by this time advanced within an hundred [Page 326] miles of the capital, which was filled with perplexity and conſternation. Had he proceeded in his career with that expedition which he had hitherto uſed, he might have made himſelf maſter of the metropolis, where he would certainly have been joined by a conſiderable number of his well-wiſhers, who waited impatiently for his approach.

In the mean time the king reſolved to take the field in perſon. But he found ſafety from the diſcontents, which now began to prevail in the Pretender's army. In fact he was but the nominal leader of his forces; as his generals, the chiefs of the Highland clans, were, from their education, ignorant, and averſe to ſubordination. They had from the beginning begun to embrace oppoſite ſyſtems of operation and to contend with each other for pre-eminence; but they ſeemed now unanimous in returning to their own country once more.

The rebels accordingly effected their retreat to Carliſle without any loſs, and from thence croſſed the rivers Eden and Solway into Scotland. In theſe marches, however, they preſerved all the rules of war; they abſtained in a great meaſure from plunder, they levied contributions on the towns as they paſſed along, and with unaccountable precaution left a garriſon in Carliſle, which ſhortly after was obliged to ſurrender to the duke of Cumberland at diſcretion, to the number of four hundred men.

The Pretender being returned to Scotland, he proceeded to Glaſgow, from which city he exacted ſevere contributions. He advanced from thence to Stirling, where he was joined by lord Lewis Gordon, at the head of ſome forces, which had been aſſembled in his abſence. Other clans, to the number of two thouſand, came in likewiſe; and from ſome ſupplies of money, which he received from Spain, and from ſome ſkirmiſhes, in which he was ſucceſsful againſt the royaliſts, his affairs began to wear a more promiſing [Page 327] aſpect. Being joined by lord Drummond, he inveſted the caſtle of Stirling, commanded by general Blakeney; but the rebel forces being unuſed to ſieges, conſumed much time to no purpoſe. It was during this attempt, that general Hawley, who commanded a conſiderable body of forces near Edinburgh, undertook to raiſe the ſiege, and advanced towards the rebel army as far as Falkirk. After two days ſpent in mutually examining each other's ſtrength, the rebels being ardent to engage, were led on in full ſpirits to attack the king's army. The Pretender, who was in the front line, gave the ſignal to engage; and the firſt fire put Hawley's forces into confuſion. The horſe retreated with precipitation, and fell upon their own infantry; while the rebels following their blow, the greateſt part of the royal army fled with the utmoſt precipitation. They retired in confuſion to Edinburgh, leaving the conquerors in poſſeſſion of their tents, their artillery, and the field of battle.

Thus far the affairs of the rebel army ſeemed not unproſperous; but here was an end of all their triumphs. The duke of Cumberland, at that time the favourite of the Engliſh army, had been recalled from Flanders; and put himſelf at the head of the troops at Edinburgh, which conſiſted of about fourteen thouſand men. With theſe he advanced to Aberdeen, where he was joined by ſeveral of the Scotch nobility, attached to the houſe of Hanover; and having revived the drooping ſpirits of his army, he reſolved to find out the enemy, who retreated at his approach. After having refreſhed his troops at Aberdeen for ſome time, he renewed his march, and in twelve days he came upon the banks of the deep and rapid river Spey. This was the place where the rebels might have diſputed his paſſage, but they loſt every advantage in diſputing with each other. They ſeemed now totally devoid of all counſel and ſubordination, without conduct, and without unanimity. After a variety of conteſts among [Page 328] each other, they reſolved to await their purſuers upon the plains of Culloden, a place about nine miles diſtant from Inverneſs, emboſomed in hills, except on that ſide which was open to the ſea. There they drew up in order of battle, to the number of eight thouſand men, in three diviſions, ſupplied with ſome pieces of artillery, ill manned and ſerved.

The battle began about one o'clock in the afternoon; the cannon of the king's army did dreadful execution among the rebels, while theirs was totally unſerviceable. One of the great errors in all the Pretender's warlike meaſures, was his ſubjecting wild and undiſciplined troops to the forms of artful war, and thus repreſſing their native ardour, from which alone he could hope for ſucceſs. After they had been kept in their ranks, and withſtood the Engliſh fire for ſome time, they at length became impatient for cloſer engagement; and about five hundred of them made an irruption upon the left wing of the enemy with their accuſtomed ferocity. The firſt line being diſordered by this onſet, two battalions advanced to ſupport it, and galled the enemy with a terrible and cloſe diſcharge. At the ſame time the dragoons, under Hawley, and the Argyleſhire militia pulling down a park wall that guarded the flank of the enemy, and which they had but feebly defended, fell in among them, ſword in hand with great ſlaughter. In leſs than thirty minutes they were totally routed, and the field covered with their wounded and ſlain, to the number of above three thouſand men. The French troops on the left did not fire a ſhot, but ſtood inactive during the engagement, and afterwards ſurrendered themſelves priſoners of war. An entire body of the clans marched off the field, in order, while the reſt were routed with great ſlaughter, and their leaders obliged with reluctance to retire. Civil war is in itſelf terrible, but more ſo when heightened by unneceſſary cruelty. How guilty ſoever an enemy [Page 329] may be, it is the duty of a brave ſoldier to remember that he is only to fight an oppoſer, and not a ſuppliant. The victory was in every reſpect deciſive, and humanity to the conquered would have rendered it glorious. But little mercy was ſhewn here; the conquerors were ſeen to refuſe quarter to the wounded, the unarmed, and the defenceleſs; ſome were ſlain who were only excited by curioſity to become ſpectators of the combat, and ſoldiers were ſeen to anticipate the baſe employment of the executioner. The duke immediately after the action, ordered ſix and thirty deſerters to be executed, the conquerors ſpread terror wherever they came, and after a ſhort ſpace, the whole country round was one dreadful ſcene of plunder, ſlaughter, and deſolation; juſtice was forgotten, and vengeance aſſumed the name.

In this manner were blaſted all the hopes, and all the ambition of the young adventurer; one ſhort hour deprived him of imaginary thrones and ſceptres, and reduced him from a nominal king, to a diſtreſſed forlorn outcaſt, ſhunned by all mankind, except ſuch as ſought his deſtruction. To the good and the brave, ſubſequent diſtreſs often atones for former guilt; and while reaſon would ſpeak for puniſhment, our hearts plead for mercy. Immediately after the engagement, he fled away with a captain of Fitzjames's cavalry, and when their horſes were fatigued they both alighted, and ſeparately ſought for ſafety. He for ſome days wandered in this country, naturally wild, but now rendered more formidable by war, a wretched ſpectator of all thoſe horrors which were the reſult of his ill-guided ambition.

There is a ſtriking ſimilitude between his adventures, and thoſe of Charles the Second, upon his eſcape from Worceſter. He ſometimes found refuge in caves and cottages, without attendants, and dependent on the wretched natives, who could pity, but not relieve him. Sometimes he lay in foreſts, with [Page 330] one or two companions of his diſtreſs, continually purſued by the troops of the conqueror, as there was a reward of thirty thouſand pounds offered for taking him, dead or a live. Sheridian, an Iriſh adventurer, was the perſon who kept moſt faithfully by him, and inſpired him with courage to ſupport ſuch incredible hardſhips. He had occaſion in the courſe of his concealments, to truſt his life to the fidelity of above fifty individuals, whoſe veneration for his family prevailed above their avarice.

One day, having walked from morning till night, he ventured to enter a houſe, the owner of which he well knew was attached to the oppoſite party. As he entered, he addreſſed the maſter of the houſe in the following manner. ‘"The ſon of your king comes to beg a little bread and a few cloaths. I know your preſent attachment to my adverſaries, but I believe you have ſufficient honour not to abuſe my confidence, or to take advantage of my diſtreſſed ſituation. Take theſe raggs that have for ſome time been my only covering; you may probably reſtore them to me one day when I ſhall be ſeated on the throne of Great Britain."’ The maſter of the houſe was touched with pity at his diſtreſs; he aſſiſted him as far as he was able, and never divulged the ſecret. There are few of thoſe who even wiſhed his deſtruction, would chuſe to be the immediate actors in it, as it would ſubject them to the reſentment of a numerous party.

In this manner he continued to wander among the frightful wilds of Glengary, for near ſix months, often hemmed round by his purſuers, but ſtill reſcued by ſome lucky accident from the impending danger. At length a privateer of St Maloes, hired by his adherents, arrived in Lochnanach, in which he embarked in the moſt wretched attire. He was clad in a ſhort coat of black frize, thread bare, over which was a common Highland plaid, girt round by a belt, from whence depended a piſtol and a dagger. He had not [Page 331] been ſhifted for many weeks; his eye was hollow, his viſage wan, and his conſtitution greatly impaired by famine and fatigue. He was accompanied by Sullivan and Sheridan, two Iriſh adherents, who had ſhared all his calamities, together with Cameron of Lochiel, and his brother, and a few other exiles. They ſet ſail for France, and after having been chaced by two Engliſh men of war, they arrived in ſafety at a place called Roſeau, near Morlaix in Bretagne. Perhaps he would have found it more difficult to eſcape, had not the vigilance of his purſuers been relaxed by a report that he was already ſlain.

In the mean time, while the Pretender was thus purſued, the ſcaffolds and the gibbets were preparing for his adherents. Seventeen officers of the rebel army were hanged, drawn, and quartered at Kennington-common, in the neighbourhood of London. Their conſtancy in death gained more proſelytes to their cauſe than even perhaps their victories would have obtained. Nine were executed in the ſame manner at Carliſle, and eleven at York. A few obtained pardons, and a conſiderable number of the common men were tranſported to the plantations in North America.

The earls of Kilmarnock and Cromartie, and the lord Balmerino, were tried by their peers, and found guilty. Cromartie was pardoned, and the others were beheaded on Tower-hill.

In this manner victory, defeat, negociation, treachery, and rebellion, ſucceeded each other rapidly for ſome years, till all ſides began to think themſelves growing more feeble, and gaining no ſolid advantage

A negociation was therefore reſolved upon; and the contending powers agreed to come to a congreſs at Aix-la-Chapelle, where the earl of Sandwich and Sir Thomas Robinſon aſſiſted as plenipotentiaries from the king of Great Britain. This treaty was begun, [Page 332] upon the preliminary conditions of reſtoring all conqueſts made during the war. From thence great hopes were expected of conditions both favourable and honourable to the Engliſh; but the treaty ſtill remains a laſting mark of precipitate counſels, and Engliſh diſgrace. By this it was agreed, that all priſoners on each ſide ſhould be mutually reſtored, and all conqueſts given up. That the dutchies of Parma, Placentia, and Guaſtalla, ſhould be ceded to Don Philip, heir apparent to the Spaniſh throne, and to his heirs; but in caſe of his ſucceeding to the crown of Spain, then theſe dominions ſhould revert to the houſe of Auſtria. It was confirmed that the fortifications of Dunkirk to the ſea ſhould be demoliſhed; that the Engliſh ſhip annually ſent with ſlaves to the coaſt of New Spain ſhould have this privilege continued for four years. That the king of Pruſſia ſhould be confirmed in the poſſeſſion of Sileſia, which he had lately conquered; and that the queen of Hungary ſhould be ſecured in her patrimonial dominions. But one article of the peace was more diſpleaſing and afflictive to the Engliſh than all the reſt. It was ſtipulated that the king of Great Britain ſhould immediately, after the ratification of this treaty, ſend two perſons of rank and diſtinction to France as hoſtages, until reſtitution ſhould be made of Cape Breton, and all other conqueſts which England had made during the war. This was a mortifying clauſe; but to add to the general error of the negociation, no mention was made of the ſearching the veſſels of England in the American ſeas, upon which the war was originally begun. The limits of their reſpective poſſeſſions in North-America were not aſcertained; nor did they receive any equivalent for thoſe forts which they reſtored to the enemy. The treaty of Utrecht had long been the object of reproach to thoſe by whom it was made; but with all its faults, the treaty now concluded was by far more deſpicable and erroneous. Yet [Page 333] ſuch was the ſpirit of the times, that the treaty of Utrecht was branded with univerſal contempt, and the treaty of Aix la-Chappelle was extolled with the higheſt ſtrains of praiſe.

This treaty, which ſome aſſerted would ſerve for a bond of permanent amity, was, properly ſpeaking, but a temporary truce; a ceſſation from hoſtilities, which both ſides were unable to continue. Though the war between England and France was actually huſhed up in Europe, yet in the Eaſt and Weſt Indies it ſtill went forward with diminiſhed vehemence. Both ſides ſtill willing to offend, ſtill offending, and yet both complaining of the infraction.

A new colony having been formed in North America, in the Province of Nova-Scotia, it was thought that thither the waſte of an exuberant nation might well be drained off; and thoſe bold ſpirits kept in employment at a diſtance, who might be dangerous, if ſuffered to continue in idleneſs at home. Nova Scotia was a place where men might be impriſoned, but not maintained; it was cold, barren, and incapable of ſucceſsful cultivation. The new colony therefore was maintained there with ſome expence to the government in the beginning; and ſuch as were permitted, ſoon went ſouthward to the milder climates, where they were invited by an untenanted and fertile ſoil. Thus did the nation ungratefully ſend off her hardy veterans to periſh on inhoſpitable ſhores, and this they were taught to believe would extend their dominion.

However it was for this barren ſpot that the Engliſh and French revived the war, which ſoon after ſpread with ſuch terrible devaſtation over every part of the globe. The native Indians bordering upon the deſarts of Nova-Scotia, a fierce and ſavage people, looked from the firſt with jealouſy upon theſe new ſettlers; and they conſidered the vicinity of the Engliſh as an encroachment upon their native poſſeſſions. The French, who were neighbours in like manner, and [Page 334] who were ſtill impreſſed with national animoſity, fomented theſe ſuſpicions in the natives, and repreſented the Engliſh (and with regard to this colony the repreſentation might be true) as enterprizing and ſevere. Commiſſaries were, therefore, appointed to meet at Paris, to compromiſe theſe diſputes; but theſe conferences were rendered abortive by the cavilings of men, who could not be ſuppoſed to underſtand the ſubject in debate.

As this ſeemed to be the firſt place where the diſſenſions took their riſe for a new war, it may be neceſſary to be a little more minute. The French had been the firſt cultivators of Nova Scotia, and by great induſtry and long perſeverance, had rendered the ſoil, naturally barren, ſomewhat more fertile, and capable of ſuſtaining nature, with ſome aſſiſtance from Europe. This country, however, had frequently changed maſters, until at length the Engliſh were ſettled in the poſſeſſion, and acknowledged as the rightful owners, by the treaty of Utretcht. The poſſeſſion of this country was reckoned neceſſary to defend the Engliſh colonies to the north, and to preſerve their ſuperiority in the fiſheries in that part of the world The French, however, who had been long ſettled in the back parts of the country, reſolved to uſe every method to diſpoſſeſs the new-comers, and ſpirited up the Indians to more open hoſtilities, which were repreſented to the Engliſh miniſtry for ſome time without redreſs.

Soon after this another ſource of diſpute began to be ſeen in the ſame part of the world, and promiſed as much uneaſineſs as the former. The French pretending firſt to have diſcovered the mouth of the river Miſſiſippi, claimed the whole adjacent country towards New Mexico on the Eaſt, and quite to the Apalachian mountains on the Weſt. In order to aſſert their claims, as they found ſeveral Engliſh, who had ſettled beyond theſe mountains, from motives of commerce, [Page 335] and alſo invited by the natural beauties of the country, they diſpoſſeſſed them of their new ſettlements, and built ſuch forts as would command the whole country round about.

Not in America alone, but alſo in Aſia, the ſeeds of a new war were preparing to be expanded. On the coaſts of Malabar, the Engliſh and French had, in fact, never ceaſed from hoſtilities.

The miniſtry, however, in England began now a very vigorous exertion in defence of their colonies, who refuſed to defend themſelves. Four operations were undertaken in America at the ſame time. Of theſe, [Note: A. D. 1756.] one was commanded by colonel Monckton, who had orders to drive the French from the encroachments upon the province of Nova Scotia. The ſecond, more to the South, was directed againſt Crown-point, under the command of general Johnſon. The third, under the conduct of general Shirley, was deſtined to Niagara, to ſecure the forts on the river; and the fourth was farther ſouthward ſtill, againſt Fort Du Queſne, under general Braddock.

In theſe expeditions Monckton was ſucceſsful; Johnſon alſo was victorious, though he failed in taking the fort againſt which he was ſent; Shirley was thought to have loſt the ſeaſon for operation by delay; Braddock was vigorous and active, but ſuffered a defeat. This bold commander, who had been recommended to this ſervice by the duke of Cumberland, ſet forward upon his expedition in June, and left the cultivated parts of the country on the tenth at the head of two thouſand two hundred men, directing his march to that part of the country where general Waſhington had been defeated the year before. Being at length within ten miles of the French fortreſs, he was appointed to beſiege, and marching forward thro' the foreſts with full confidence of ſucceſs, on a ſudden his whole army was aſtoniſhed by a general diſcharge [Page 336] of arms, both in front and flank, from an enemy that ſtill remained unſeen. It was now too late to think of retreating, the troops had paſſed into the defile, which the enemy had artfully permitted them to do before they offered to fire. The vanguard of the Engliſh now, therefore, fell back in conſternation upon the main body, and the panic ſoon became general. The officers alone diiſganed to fly, while Braddock himſelf ſtill continued to command his brave aſſociates, diſcovering at once the greateſt intrepidity and the greateſt imprudence. An enthuſiaſt to the diſcipline of war, he diſdained to fly from the field, or to permit his men to quit their ranks, when their only method of treating the Indian army, was by a precipitate attack, or an immediate deſertion of the field of battle. At length Braddock, having received a muſquet ſhot, through the lungs, he dropped, and a total confuſion enſued. All the artillery, ammunition, and baggage of the army were left to the enemy; and the loſs ſuſtained by the Engliſh army might amount to ſeven hundred men.

The murmurs, fears, and diſſenſions which this defeat gave riſe to, gave the French an opportunity of carrying on their deſigns on another quarter. The iſland of Minorca, which we had taken from the Spaniards in the reign of queen Anne, was ſecured to England by repeated treaties. But the miniſtry, at this time being blinded by domeſtic terrors, had neglected to take ſufficient precautions for its defence, ſo that the garriſon was weak, and no way fitted to ſtand a vigorous ſiege. The French, therefore landed near the fortification of St. Philip's, which was reckoned one of the ſtrongeſt in Europe, and commanded by general Blakeney, who was brave indeed, but rather ſuperannuated. The ſiege was carried on with great vigour, and for ſome time as obſtinately defended on the ſide of the Engliſh, but the place was at length obliged to capitulate.

[Page 337] The miniſtry being apprized of this unexpected attack, reſolved to raiſe the ſiege if poſſible, and ſent out admiral Byng, with ten ſhips of war, with orders to relieve Minorca at any rate. Byng accordingly ſailed from Gibraltar, where he was refuſed any aſſiſtance of men from the governor of that garriſon, under a pretence that his own fortification was in danger. Upon his approaching the iſland, he ſoon ſaw the French banners diſplayed upon the ſhore, and the Engliſh colours ſtill flying on the caſtle of St. Philip. He had been ordered to throw a body of troops into the garriſon, but this he thought too hazardous an undertaking; nor did he even make an attempt. While he was thus deliberating between his fears and his duty, his attention was quickly called off by the appearance of a French fleet, that ſeemed of nearly equal force to his own. Confounded by a variety of meaſures, he ſeemed reſolved to purſue none, and therefore gave orders to form the line of battle, and act upon the defenſive. Byng had been long praiſed for his ſkill in naval tactics; and, perhaps, valuing moſt thoſe talents for which he was moſt praiſed, he ſacrificed all claims to courage to the applauſe for naval diſcipline. The French fleet advanced, a part of the Engliſh fleet engaged, the admiral ſtill kept aloof, and gave very plauſible reaſons for not coming into action. The French fleet, therefore, ſlowly ſailed away, and no other opportunity ever offered of coming to a cloſer engagement.

Nothing could exceed the reſentment of the nation upon being informed of Byng's conduct. The miniſtry were not averſe to throwing from themſelves the blame of thoſe meaſures which were attended with ſuch indifferent ſucceſs, and they ſecretly fanned the flame. The news, which ſoon after arrived, of the ſurrender of the garriſon to the French, drove the general ferment almoſt to frenzy. In the mean time [Page 338] Byng continued at Gibraltar, quite ſatisfied with his own conduct, and little expecting the dreadful ſtorm that was gathering againſt him at home. Orders, however, were ſoon ſet out for putting him under an arreſt, and for carrying him to England. Upon his arrival he was committed to cloſe cuſtody, in Greenwich hoſpital, and ſome arts uſed to enflame the populace againſt him, who want no incentives to injure and condemn their ſuperiors. Several addreſſes were ſent up from different counties, demanding juſtice on the delinquent, which the miniſtry were willing to ſecond. He was ſoon after tried by a court-martial in the harbour of Portſmouth, where, after a trial which continued ſeveral days, his judges were agreed that he had not done his utmoſt during the engagement to deſtroy the enemy, and therefore they adjudged him to ſuffer death by the twelfth article of war. At the ſame time, however, they recommended him as an object of mercy, as they conſidered his conduct rather as the effects of error, than of cowardice. By this ſentence they expected to ſatiſfy at once the reſentment of the nation, and yet ſcreen themſelves from conſcious ſeverity. The government was reſolved upon ſhewing him no mercy; the parliament was applied to in his favour; but they found no circumſtances in his conduct that could invalidate the former ſentence. Being thus abandoned to his fate, he maintained to the laſt a degree of fortitude and ſerenity, that no way betrayed any timidity or cowardice. On the day fixed for his execution, which was on board a man of war in the harbour of Portſmouth, he advanced from the cabbin, where he had been impriſoned, upon deck, the place appointed for him to ſuffer. After delivering a paper, containing the ſtrongeſt aſſertions of his innocence, he came forward to the place where he was to kneel down, and for ſome time perſiſted in not [Page 339] covering his face; but his friends repreſenting that his looks would poſſibly intimidate the ſoldiers who were to ſhoot him, and prevent their taking proper aim, he had his eyes bound with an handkerchief; and then giving the ſignal for the ſoldiers to fire, he was killed inſtantaneouſly. There appears ſome ſeverity in Byng's puniſhment; but it certainly produced ſoon after very beneficial effects to the nation.

In the progreſs of the war the forces of the contending powers of Europe were now drawn out in the following manner. England oppoſed France in America, Aſia, and on the ocean. France attacked Hanover on the continent of Europe. This country the king of Pruſſia undertook to protect; while England promiſed him troops and money to aſſiſt his operations. Then again Auſtria had their aims on the dominions of Pruſſia, and drew the elector of Saxony into the ſame deſigns. In theſe views ſhe was ſeconded by France and Sweden, and by Ruſſia, who had hopes of acquiring a ſettlement in the weſt of Europe.

The Eaſt was the quarter on which ſucceſs firſt began to dawn upon the Britiſh arms. The affairs of the Engliſh ſeemed to gain the aſcendancy, by the conduct of Mr. Clive. This gentleman had at firſt entered the company's ſervice in a civil capacity, but finding his talents more adapted for war, he gave up his clerkſhip, and joined among the troops as a volunteer. His courage, which is all that ſubordinate officers can at firſt ſhew, ſoon became remarkable; but his conduct, expedition, and military ſkill ſoon after became ſo conſpicuous as to raiſe him to the firſt rank in the army.

The firſt advantage that was obtained from his activity and courage was the clearing the province of Arcot. Soon after the French general was taken priſoner; [Page 340] and the nabob, whom the Engliſh ſupported, was reinſtated in the government, of which he had formerly been deprived.

The prince of the greateſt power in that country declared war againſt the Engliſh from motives of perſonal reſentment, and, levying a numerous army, laid ſiege to Calcutta, one of the principal Britiſh forts in that part of the world; but which was not in a ſtate of ſtrength to defend itſelf againſt the attack of even barbarians. The fort was taken, having been deſerted by the commander; and the garriſon, to the number of an hundred and forty-ſix perſons, were made priſoners.

They expected the uſual treatment of priſoners of war, and were therefore the leſs vigorous in their defence; but they ſoon found what mercy was to be expected from a ſavage conqueror. They were all crowded together into a narrow priſon, called the Black Hole, of about eighteen feet ſquare, and receiving air only by two ſmall iron windows to the weſt, which by no means afforded a ſufficient circulation. It is terrible to reflect on the ſituation of theſe unfortunate men, ſhut up in this narrow place, in the burning climate of the Eaſt, and ſuffocating each other. Their firſt efforts, upon perceiving the effects of their horrid confinement, were to break open the door of the priſon; but as it opened inward, they ſoon found that impoſſible. They next endeavoured to excite the compaſſion or the avidity of the guard, by offering him a large ſum of money for his aſſiſtance in removing them to ſeparate priſons; but with this he was not able to comply, as the viceroy was aſleep, and no perſon dared to diſturb him. They were now, therefore, left to die without hopes of relief; and the whole priſon was filled with groans, ſhrieks, conteſt, and deſpair. This turbulence, however, ſoon after ſunk into a calm ſtill more hideous; their efforts of [Page 341] ſtrength and courage were over, and an expiring languor ſucceeded. In the morning when the keepers came to viſit the priſon, all was horror, ſilence, and deſolation. Of an hundred and forty-ſix who had entered alive, twenty-three only ſurvived, and of theſe the greateſt part died of putrid fevers upon being ſet free.

The deſtruction of this important fortreſs ſerved to interrupt the proſperous ſucceſſes of the Engliſh company; but the fortune of Mr. Clive, backed by the activity of an Engliſh fleet under admiral Watſon, ſtill turned the ſcale in their favour. Among the number of thoſe who felt the power of the Engliſh in this part of the world, was the famous Tullagee Angria, a piratical prince, who had long infeſted the Indian ocean, and made the princes on the coaſt his tributaries. He maintained a large number of gallies, and with theſe he attacked the largeſt ſhips, and almoſt ever with ſucceſs. As the company had been greatly harraſſed by his depredations, they reſolved to ſubdue ſuch a dangerous enemy, and attack him in his own fortreſs. In purſuance of this reſolution, admiral Watſon and colonel Clive ſailed into his harbour of Geriah; and though they ſuſtained a warm fire as they entered, yet they ſoon threw all his fleet into flames, and obliged his fort to ſurrender at diſcretion. The conquerors found there a large quantity of warlike ſtores, and effects to a conſiderable value.

Colonel Clive proceeded to take revenge for the cruelty practiſed upon the Engliſh. About the beginning of December, he arrived at Balaſore, in the kingdom of Bengal. He met with little oppoſition either to the fleet or the army, till they came before Calcutta, which ſeemed reſolved to ſtand a regular ſiege. As ſoon as the admiral, with two ſhips, arrived before the town, he received a furious fire from [Page 342] all the batteries, which he ſoon returned with ſtill greater execution, and in leſs than two hours obliged them to abandon their fortifications. By theſe means the Engliſh took poſſeſſion of the two ſtrongeſt ſettlements on the banks of the Ganges; but that of Geriah they demoliſhed to the ground.

Soon after theſe ſucceſſes Hughly, a city of great trade, was reduced, with as little difficulty as the former, and all the viceroy of Bengal's ſtore-houſes and granaries were deſtroyed. In order to repair theſe loſſes this barbarous prince aſſembled an army of ten thouſand horſe, and fifteen thouſand foot, and profeſſed a firm reſolution of expelling the Engliſh from all their ſettlements in that part of the world. Upon the firſt intelligence of his march colonel Clive, obtaining a reinforcement of men from the admiral's ſhips, advanced with his little army to attack theſe numerous forces. He attacked the enemy in three columns, and though the numbers were ſo diſproportioned, victory ſoon declared in favour of the Engliſh.

The Engliſh by theſe victories having placed a viceroy on the throne (for the Mogul had long loſt all power in India) they took care to exact ſuch ſtipulations in their own favour as would ſecure them the poſſeſſion of the country whenever they thought proper to reſume their authority. They were gratified in their avarice to its extremeſt wiſh; and that wealth which they had plundered from ſlaves in India they were reſolved to employ in making ſlaves at home.

From the conqueſt of the Indians colonel Clive turned to the humbling of the French, who had long diſputed empire in that part of the world, and ſoon diſpoſſeſſed them of all their power, and all their ſettlements.

[Page 343] In the mean time, while conqueſt ſhined upon us from the Eaſt, it was ſtill more ſplendid in the weſtern world. But ſome alterations in the miniſtry led to thoſe ſucceſſes which had been long wiſhed for by the nation, and were at length obtained. The affairs of war had been hitherto directed by a miniſtry, but ill ſupported by the commons, becauſe not confided in by the people. They ſeemed timid and wavering, and but feebly held together, rather by their fears than their mutual confidence. When any new meaſure was propoſed which could not receive their approbation, or any new member was introduced into government whom they did not appoint, they conſidered it as an infringement upon their reſpective departments, and threw up their places in diſguſt, with a view to reſume them with greater luſtre. Thus the ſtrength of the crown was every day declining, while an ariſtocracy filled up every avenue to the throne, intent only on the emoluments, not the duties of office.

This was at that time the general opinion of the people, and it was too loud not to reach the throne. The miniſtry that had hitherto hedged in the throne were at length obliged to admit ſome men into a ſhare of the government, whoſe activity at leaſt would counterbalance their timidity and irreſolution. At the head of the newly introduced party was the celebrated Mr. William Pitt, from whoſe vigour the nation formed very great expectations, and they were not deceived.

But though the old miniſters were obliged to admit theſe new members into their ſociety, there was no legal penalty for refuſing to operate with them [...] they therefore aſſociated with each other, and uſed every art to make their new aſſiſtants obnoxious to the king, upon whom they had been [...] forced by the people. His former miniſt [...] [...] [Page 344] him in all his attachments to his German dominions, while the new had long clamoured againſt all continental connections, as utterly incompatible with the intereſt of the nation. Theſe two opinions carried to the extreme might have been erroneous; but the king was naturally led to ſide with thoſe who favoured his own ſentiments, and to reject thoſe who oppoſed them. Mr. Pitt, therefore, after being a few months in office, was ordered to reſign by his majeſty's command, and his coadjutor, Mr. Legge, was diſplaced from being chancellor of the exchequer. But this blow to his ambition was but of ſhort continuance; the whole nation, almoſt to a man, ſeemed to riſe up in his defence, and Mr. Pitt and Mr. Legge being reſtored to their former employments, the one of ſecretary of ſtate, the other of chancellor of the exchequer, began to act with vigour.

The conſequences of the former ill conducted counſels ſtill ſeemed to continue in America. The generals ſent over to manage the operations of the war, loudly accuſed the timidity and delays of the natives, whoſe duty it was to unite in their own defence. The natives on the other hand as warmly expoſtu [...] [...]gainſt the pride, avarice, and incapacity of thoſe ſent over to command them. General Shirley who had been appointed to the ſupreme command there, had been for ſome time recalled, and replaced by lord London; and this nobleman alſo ſoon after returning to England, three ſeveral commanders were put at the head of ſeparate operations. General Amherſt commanded that deſigned againſt the iſland of Cape Breton. The other was conſigned to general Abercrombie, againſt Crown Point and Ticonderago; and the third ſtill more to the ſouthward, againſt ſort du Queſne, commanded by brigadier-general Forbes.

[Page 345] Cape Breton, which had been taken from the French during the preceding war, had been reſtored at the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. It was not till the Engliſh had been put in poſſeſſion of that iſland that they began to perceive its advantageous ſituation, and the convenience of its harbour for annoying the Britiſh trade with impunity. It was alſo a convenient port for carrying on their fiſhery, a branch of commerce of the utmoſt benefit to that nation. The wreſting it, therefore, once more from the hands of the French was a meaſure ardently deſired by the whole nation. The fortreſs of Louiſburg, by which it was defended, had been ſtrengthened by the aſſiſtance of art, and was ſtill better defended from the nature of its ſituation. The garriſon alſo was numerous, the commander vigilant, and every precaution taken to oppoſe a landing. An account of the operations of the ſiege can give but little pleaſure in abridgment, be it ſufficient to ſay, that the Engliſh ſurmounted every obſtacle with great intrepidity. Their former timidity and irreſolution ſeemed to vaniſh, their natural courage and confidence returned, and the place ſurrendered by capitulation. The fortifications were ſoon after demoliſhed, and rendered unfit for future protection.

The expedition to Fort du Queſne was equally ſucceſsful, but that againſt Crown Point was once more defeated. This was now the ſecond time that the Engliſh army bad attempted to penetrate into thoſe hideous wilds by which nature had ſecured the French poſſeſſions in that part of the world. Braddock fell in the attempt a martyr to his impetuoſity: too much caution was equally injurious to his ſucceſſor. Abercrombie ſpent much time in marching to the place of action, and the enemy were thus perfectly prepared to give him a ſevere reception. As he approached Ticonderago he found them deeply intrenched at [Page 346] the foot of the ſort, and ſtill farther ſecured by fallen trees, with their branches pointing againſt him. Theſe difficulties the Engliſh ardour attempted to ſurmount, but as the enemy being ſecure in themſelves, took aim at leiſure, a terrible carnage of the aſſailants enſued, and the general, after repeated efforts, was obliged to order a retreat. The Engliſh army, however, were ſtill ſuperior, and it was ſuppoſed that when the artillery was arrived ſomething more ſucceſsful might be performed; but the general felt too ſenſibly the terrors of the late defeat to remain in the neighbourhood of a triumphant enemy. He therefore withdrew his troops, and returned to his camp at Lake George, from whence he had taken his departure.

But though in this reſpect the Engliſh arms were unſucceſsful, yet upon the whole the campaign was greatly in their favour. The taking of Fort du Queſne ſerved to remove from their colonies the terror of the incurſions of the Indians, while it interrupted that correſpondence which ran along a chain of ſorts, with which the French had environed the Engliſh ſettlements in America. This, therefore, promiſed a fortunate campaign the next year, and vigorous meaſures were taken to enſure ſucceſs.

Accordingly, on the opening of the following year, the miniſtry, ſenſible that a ſingle effort carried on in ſuch an extenſive country could never reduce the enemy, they reſolved to attack them in ſeveral parts of their empire at once. Preparations were alſo made, and expeditions driven forward againſt three different parts of North America at the ſame time. General Amherſt, the commander in chief, with a body of twelve thouſand men, was to attack Crown Point, that had hitherto been the reproach of the Engliſh army. General Wolf was at the oppoſite quarter to enter the river St. Lawrence, and undertake [Page 347] the ſiege of Quebec, the capital of the French dominions in America; while general Prideaux and Sir William Johnſon were to attempt a French fort near the cataracts of Niagara.

The laſt named expedition was the firſt that ſucceeded. The fort of Niagara was a place of great importance, and ſerved to command all the communication between the northern and weſtern French ſettlements. The ſiege was begun with vigour, and promiſed an eaſy conqueſt, but general Prideaux was killed in the trenches by the burſting of a mortar; ſo that the whole command of the expedition devolved upon general Johnſon, who omitted nothing to puſh forward the vigorous operations of his predeceſſor, to which alſo he added his own popularity with the ſoldiers under him. A body of French troops, who were ſenſible of the importance of this fort, attempted to relieve it; but Johnſon attacked them with intrepidity and ſucceſs, for in leſs than an hour their whole army was put to the rout. The garriſon ſoon after perceiving the fate of their countrymen, ſurrendered priſoners of war. The ſucceſs of general Amherſt was leſs ſplendid, though not leſs ſerviceable; upon arriving at the deſtined place he found the forts both of Crown Point and Ticonderago deſerted and deſtroyed.

There now, therefore, remained but one grand and deciſive blow to put all North America into the poſſeſſion of the Engliſh; and this was the taking of Quebec, the capital of Canada, a city handſomely built, populous, and flouriſhing. Admiral Saunders was appointed to command the naval part of the expedition; the ſiege by land was committed to the conduct of general Wolfe, of whom the nation had great expectations. This young ſoldier who was not yet thirty-five, had diſtinguiſhed himſelf on many former occaſions, particularly at the ſiege of [Page 348] Louiſburg; [Note: A. D. 1759.] a part of the ſucceſs of which was juſtly aſcribed to him, who, without being indebted to family or connections, had raiſed himſelf by merit to his preſent command.

The war in this part of the world had been hitherto carried on with extreme barbarity; and retaliating murders were continued without any one's knowing who firſt began. Wolfe, however, diſdained to imitate an example that had been ſet him even by ſome of his aſſociate officers; he carried on the war with all the ſpirit of humanity which it admits of. It is not our aim to enter into a minute detail of the ſiege of this city, which could at beſt only give amuſement to a few; it will be ſufficient to ſay, that when we conſider the ſituation of the town on the ſide of a great river, the fortifications with which it was ſecured, the natural ſtrength of the country, the great number of veſſels and floating batteries the enemy had provided for the defence of the river, the numerous bodies of ſavages continually hovering round the Engliſh army, we muſt own there was ſuch a combination of difficulties as might diſcourage and perplex the moſt reſolute commander. The general himſelf ſeemed perfectly ſenſible of the difficulty of the undertaking. After ſtating, in a letter to the miniſtry, the dangers that preſented, ‘"I know, ſaid he, that the affairs of Great Britain require the moſt vigorous meaſures. But then the courage of an handful of brave men ſhould be exerted only where there is ſome hope of a favourable event. At preſent the difficulties are ſo various, that I am at a loſs how to determine."’ The only proſpect of attempting the town with ſucceſs was by landing a body of troops in the night below the town, who were to clamber up the banks of the river, and take poſſeſſion of the ground on the back of the city. This attempt, however, appeared peculiarly diſcouraging. [Page 349] The ſtream was rapid, the ſhore ſhelving, the bank above lined with centinels, the landing-place ſo narrow as to be eaſily miſſed in the dark, and the ſteepneſs of the ground ſuch as hardly to be ſurmounted in the day time. All theſe difficulties, however, were ſurmounted by the conduct of the general, and the bravery of the men. Colonel Howe, with the light infantry and the Highlanders, aſcended the woody precipices with admirable courage and activity, and diſlodged a ſmall body of troops that defended a narrow path way up the bank; thus a few mounting, the general drew the reſt up in order as they arrived. Monſieur de Montcalm, the French commander, was no ſooner apprized that the Engliſh had gained theſe heights, which he had confidently deemed inacceſſible, than he reſolved to hazard a battle; and a furious encounter quickly began. This was one of the moſt deſperate engagements during this war. The French general was ſlain; the ſecond in command ſhared the ſame ſate. General Wolfe was ſtationed on the right, where the attack was moſt warm; as he ſtood conſpicuous in the front line, he had been aimed at by the enemies markſmen, and received a ſhot in the wriſt, which, however, did not oblige him to quit the field. Having wrapped an handkerchief round his hand, he continued giving orders without the leaſt emotion, and advanced at the head of the grenadiers with their bayonets fixed; but a ſecond ball more fatal, pierced his breaſt; ſo that unable to proceed, he leaned on the ſhoulder of a ſoldier that was next him. Now ſtruggling in the agonies of death, and juſt expiring, he heard a voice cry, They run! upon which he ſeemed for a moment to revive, and aſking who ran, was informed the French Expreſſing his wonder that they ran ſo ſoon, and unable to gaze any longer, he ſunk on the ſoldier's breaſt, and his laſt words were, "I die happy." Perhaps the [Page 350] loſs of the Engliſh that day was greater than the conqueſt of Canada was advantageous. But it is the lot of mankind only to know true merit on that dreadful occaſion, when they are going to loſe it.

The ſurrender of Quebec was the conſequence of this victory; and with it ſoon after the total ceſſion of all Canada. The French, indeed, the following ſeaſon made a vigorous effort to retake the city; but by the reſolution of governor Murray, and the appearance of an Engliſh fleet under the command of lord Colville, they were obliged to abandon the enterprize. The whole province was ſoon after reduced by the prudence and activity of general Amherſt, who obliged the French army to capilulate, and it has ſince remained annexed to the Britiſh empire. To theſe conqueſts about the ſame time was added the reduction of the iſland of Guadaloupe, under commodore More, and general Hopſon, an acquiſition of great importance; but which was reſtored at the ſucceeding peace.

Theſe ſucceſſes in India and America were great, though atchieved by no very expenſive efforts; on the contrary, the efforts the Engliſh made in Europe, and the operations of their great ally, the king of Pruſſia, were aſtoniſhing, yet produced no ſignal advantages.

England was all this time happily retired from the miſeries which oppreſſed the reſt of Europe: yet from her natural military ardour ſhe ſeemed deſirous of ſharing thoſe dangers, of which ſhe was only a ſpectator. This paſſion for ſharing in a continental war was not leſs pleaſing to the king of England, from his native attachments, than from a deſire of revenge upon the plunderers of his country. As ſoon therefore as it was known that prince Ferdinand had put himſelf at the head of the Hanoverian army, to aſſiſt the king of Pruſſia, his Britannic majeſty, in a [Page 351] ſpcech to his parliament, obſerved that the late ſucceſſes of his ally in Germany had given an happy turn to his affairs, which it would be neceſſary to improve. The commons concurred in his ſentiments, and liberally granted ſupplies both for the ſervice of the king of Pruſſia, and for enabling the army formed in Hanover to act vigorouſly in conjunction with him.

From ſending money over into Germany, the nation began to extend their benefits; and it was ſoon conſidered that men would be a more grateful ſupply. Mr. Pitt, who had at firſt come into popularity and power by oppoſing ſuch meaſures, was now prevailed on to enter into them with even greater ardour than any of his predeceſſors. The hopes of putting a ſpeedy end to the war by vigorous meaſures, the connexions with which he was obliged to co operate, and perhaps the pleaſure he found in pleaſing the king, all together incited him eagerly to puſh forward a continental war. However, he only conſpired with the general inclinations of the people at this time, who, allured by the noble efforts of their only ally, were unwilling to ſee him fall a ſacrifice to the united ambition of his enemies.

In order to indulge this general inclination of aſſiſting the king of Pruſſia, the duke of Marlborough was at firſt ſent into Germany with a ſmall body of Britiſh forces to join with prince Ferdinand, whoſe activity againſt the French began to be crowned with ſucceſs. After ſome ſmall ſucceſſes gained by the allied army at Crevelt, the duke of Marlborough dying, his command devolved upon lord George Sackville, who was at that time a favourite with the Engliſh army. However a miſunderſtanding aroſe between him and the commander in chief, which ſoon had an occaſion of being diſplayed at the battle of Minden, which was ſought ſoon after. The cauſe of this ſecret diſguſt on [Page 352] both ſides is not clearly known; it is thought that the extenſive genius, and the inquiſitive ſpirit of the Engliſh general, were by no means agreeable to his ſuperior in command, who hoped to reap ſome pecuniary advantages the other was unwilling to permit. Be this as it will, both armies advancing near the town of Minden, the French began the attack with great vigour, and a general engagement of the infantry enſued. Lord George, at the head of the Britiſh and Hanoverian horſe, was ſtationed at ſome diſtance on the right of the infantry, from which they were divided by a ſcanty wood that bordered on an heath. The French infantry giving ground, the prince thought that this would be a favourable opportunity to pour down the horſe among them, and accordingly ſent lord George orders to come on. Theſe orders were but ill obeyed; and whether they were unintelligible, or contradictory, ſtill remains a point for poſterity to debate upon. It is certain that lord George ſhortly after was recalled, tried by a court-martial, found guilty, and declared incapable of ſerving in any military command for the future. The enemy however were repulſed in all their attacks with conſiderable loſs, and at length giving way were purſued to the very ramparts of Minden. The victory was ſplendid, but laurels were the only advantage reaped from the field of battle.

After theſe victories, which were greatly magnified in England, it was ſuppoſed that one reinforcement more of Britiſh troops would terminate the war in favour of the allies, and a reinforcement was quickly ſent. The Britiſh army in Germany now, therefore, amounted to above thirty thouſand men, and the whole nation was fluſhed with the hopes of immediate conqueſt. But theſe hopes ſoon vaniſhed in finding victory and defeat ſucceſſively following each other. [Page 353] The allies were worſted at Corbach; but retrieved their honour at Exdorf. A victory at Warbourg followed ſhortly after, and another at Zierenberg; but then they ſuffered a defeat at Compen, after which both ſides went into winter quarters. The ſucceſſes thus on either ſide might be conſidered as a compact by which both engaged to loſe much, and gain little; for no advantages whatever followed from victory. The Engliſh at length began to open their eyes to their own intereſt, and found that they were waging unequal war, and loading themſelves with taxes for conqueſts that they could neither preſerve nor enjoy.

It muſt be confeſſed that the efforts of England at this time, over ever part of the globe, were amazing; and the expence of her operations greater than had ever been diſburſed by any nation before. The king of Pruſſia received a ſubſidy; a large body of Engliſh forces commanded the extenſive peninſula of India; another army of twenty thouſand men confirmed their conqueſts in North America; there were thirty thouſand men employed in Germany, and ſeveral other bodies diſperſed in the different garriſons in various parts of the world; but all theſe were nothing to the force maintained at ſea, which carried command wherever it came, and had totally annihilated the French power on that element. The courage and the conduct of the Engliſh admirals had ſurpaſſed whatever had been read of in hiſtory; neither ſuperior force, nor number, nor even the terrors of the tempeſt could intimidate them. Admiral Hawke gained a complete victory over an equal number of French ſhips, on the coaſt of Bretagne, in Quiberon Bay, in the midſt of a tempeſt, during the darkneſs of the night, and what a ſeamen fears ſtill more, upon a rocky ſhore.

[Page 354] Such was the glorious figure the Britiſh nation appeared in to all the world at this time. But while their arms proſpered in every effort tending to the real intereſts of the nation, an event happened, which for a while obſcured the ſplendour of her victories. On the twenty-fifth of October, the king, without having complained of any previous diſorder, was found, by his domeſtics, expiring in his chamber. He had ariſen at his uſual hour, and obſerved to his attendants, that as the weather was fine he would take a walk into the gardens of Kenſington, where he then reſided. In a few minutes after his return, being left alone, he was heard to fall down upon the floor. The noiſe of this bringing his attendants into the room, they lifted him into bed, where he deſired, with a faint voice, that the princeſs Amelia might be ſent for, but before ſhe could reach the apartment he expired. An attempt was made to bleed him, but without effect; and afterwards, the ſurgeons, upon opening him, diſcovered that the right ventricle of the heart was actually ruptured, and that a great quantity of blood was diſcharged through the aperture.

[Note: Oct. 25, 1760.]George the Second died in the ſeventy-ſeventh year of his age, and the thirty-third of his reign; lamented by his ſubjects, and in the midſt of victory. If any monarch was happy in the peculiar mode of his death, and the preciſe time of its arrival, it was he. The univerſal enthuſiaſm of the people for conqueſt was now beginning to ſubſide, and ſober reaſon to take her turn in the adminiſtration of affairs. The factions which had been nurſing during his long reign, had not yet come to maturity; but threatened, with all their virulence, to afflict his ſucceſſor. He was, himſelf, of no ſhining abilities; and while he was permited to guide and aſſiſt his German dominions, [Page 355] he entruſted the care of Britain to his miniſters at home. However as we ſtand too near to be impartial judges of his merits or defects, let us ſtate his character as delivered by two writers of oppoſite opinions.

‘"On whatever ſide," ſays his panegyriſt, "we look upon his character, we ſhall find ample matter for juſt and unſuſpected praiſe. None of his predeceſſors on the throne of England, lived to ſo great an age, or enjoyed longer felicity. His ſubjects were ſtill improving under him, in commerce and arts; and his own oeconomy ſet a prudent example to the nation, which, however, they did not follow. He was, in his temper, ſudden and violent; but this, though it influenced his conduct, made no change in his behaviour, which was generally guided by reaſon. He was plain and direct in his intentions; true to his word, ſteady in his favour and protection to his ſervants, nor parting even with his miniſters till compelled to it by the violence of faction. In ſhort, through the whole of his life he appeared rather to live for the cultivation of uſeful virtues than ſplendid ones; and ſatisfied with being good, left others their unenvied greatneſs."’

Such is the picture given by his friends, but there are others who reverſe the medal. "As to the extent of his underſtanding, or the ſplendour of his virtue, we rather wiſh for opportunities of praiſe, than undertake the taſk ourſelves. His public character was marked with a predilection for his native country, and to that he ſacrificed all other conſiderations. He was not only unlearned himſelf, but he deſpiſed learning in others; and though genius might have flouriſhed in his reign, yet he neither promoted it by his influence or example. His frugality bordered upon avarice, and he hoarded not for his ſubjects, but himſelf. He was remarkable for no one great virtue, [Page 356] and was known to practiſe ſeveral of the meaner vices." Which of theſe two characters are true, or whether they may not in part be both ſo, I will not pretend to decide. If his favourers are numerous, ſo are thoſe who oppoſe them; let poſterity, therefore, decide the conteſt.