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committed him to Newgate while he was there, he petitioned the king for a release, his physicians declaring, that his life was in danger from his close confinement; but no security would be accepted. So that he soon declined in his health, and died in Newgate in the seventy-third year of his age, January 19, 1684 -5, having been a prisoner four months and one week. A little before his death he said, a man might be as effectually murdered in Newgate as at Tyburn. He was buried by his friends in Bunhill-fields with great honour, many eminent persons, and some scores of coaches, attending his funeral.
This was the usage the dissenters met with from the church of England at this time, which has hardly a parallel in the Christian world: remarkable are the words of the earl of Castlemain, a Roman Catholic, on this occasion: "'Twas never known (says he) that Rome persecuted, as the bishops do, those who adhere to the same faith with themselves; and established an inquisition against the professors of the strictest piety among themselves; and, however the prelates complain of the bloody persecution of queen Mary, it is manifest that their persecution exceeds it; for under her there were not more than two or three hundred put to death, whereas, under their persecution, above treble that number have been rifled, destroyed, and ruined in their estates, lives, and liberties, being (as is most remarkable) men for the most part of the same spirit with those Protestants who suffered under the prelates in queen Mary's time*.'
This year died Mr. Benjamin Woodbridge, M. A., the ejected minister of Newbury. He was bred up in Magdalen-hall, Oxford; from thence he went to New England, and was the first graduate of the college there. On his return to England, he succeeded Dr. Twisse at Newbury, where he had a mighty reputation as a scholar, a preacher, a casuist, and a Christian. He was a great instrument of reducing the whole town to sobriety, and to family as well as public religion. Upon the Restoration, he was made one of the king's chaplains in ordinary, and preached once before him. He was one of the commissioners at the Savoy, and very desirous of an accommodation with the church-party. He was offered a canonry of Windsor, but refused it, and afterward suffered many ways for his nonconformity, though he was generally respected and beloved by all who were judges of real worth. He had a sound judgment, and was a fine preacher, having a commanding voice and aspect. His temper was cheerful, and his behaviour obliging; he was exemplary for his moderation, and of considerable learning. When the five-mile act took place, he removed from Newbury to a small distance, where he preached as he had opportunity. He was liberal to the poor, and in all respects a good and great man. He died at Inglefield, November
Peirce, p. 259. † Ca'amy, vol. 2. p. 956. Palmer's Non. Mem. vol. 1. p. 229.
1, 1684, in a good old age, after he had been a minister in those parts almost forty years.
The sufferings of the Presbyterians in Scotland run parallel with those of England, during the whole course of this reign, but the people were not quite so tame and submissive*: the same or greater acts of severity, than those which were made against the Nonconformists in England, were enacted in Scotland. Episcopacy was restored May 8, 1662, and the covenant declared to be an unlawful oath. All persons in office were to sign a declaration of the unlawfulness of taking up arms against the king, or any commissioned by him, on any pretence whatsoever. The English act against conventicles was copied, and passed almost in the same terms in Scotland. The bishops were some of the worst of men, and hated by the people as they deserved, for their deportment was unbecoming their function, says bishop Burnett; some did not live within their diocesses, and those who did, seemed to take no care of them: they shewed no zeal against vice; the most eminently vicious in the country were their peculiar confidants: nor had they any concern to keep their clergy to their duty, but were themselves guilty of levity, and great sensuality.
The people were generally of the Presbyterian persuasion, and stood firm by each other. In many places they were fierce and untractable, and generally forsook the churches; the whole country complained of the new episcopal clergy, as immoral, stupid, ignorant, and greedy of gain; and treated them with an aversion that sometimes proceeded to violence. Many were brought before the council, and ecclesiastical commission, for not coming to church; but the proofs were generally defective, for the people would not give evidence one against another. However, great numbers were cast into prison, and ill-used; some were fined; and the younger sort whipped publicly about the streets; so that great numbers transported their families to Ulster in Ireland, where they were well received.
The government observed no measures with this people, they exacted exorbitant fines for their not coming to church, and quartered soldiers upon them till they were ruined. The truth is, says Burnett, the whole face of the government looked more like the proceedings of an inquisition, than of legal courts. At length, in the year 1666, sir James Turner being sent into the west to levy fines at discretion, the people rose up in arms, and published a manifesto, that they did not take arms against the king, but only that they might be delivered from the tyranny of the bishops, and that presbytery and the covenant might be set up, and their old ministers restored. Turner and all his soldiers were made prisoners, but marching out of their own country, they were dispersed by the king's forces, about forty being killed, and one hundred and thirty taken; many of whom were hanged before
⚫ Burnet, vol. 1. p. 206-211. + Page 317.
Page 307. 309, 310.
their own doors, and died with great firmness and joy*. Mr. Maccail their minister underwent the torture, and died with great constancy; his last words were, " Farewell sun, moon, and stars; farewell kindred and friends, world and time, and this weak and frail body; and welcome eternity, welcome angels and saints, welcome Saviour of the world, and God the judge of all!" which he spoke in such a manner as struck all who heard him. The commander of the king's forces killed some in cold blood, and threatened to spit others and roast them alive.
When the indulgence was published in England the Scots had the benefit of it, but when it was taken away the persecution revived, with inexpressible severity, under the administration of duke Lauderdale. Conventicles abounded in all parts of the country; the Presbyterian ministers preached in their own houses, to numbers of people that stood without doors to hear them; and when they were dispersed by the magistrates, they retreated into the fields with their ministers to hear the word of God; and to prevent being disturbed, carried arms sufficient for their defence. Upon which a very severe act was passed against house conventicles and field conventicles, declaring them treasonable; and the landlords, in whose grounds they were held, were to be severely fined, unless they discovered the persons present. But still this did not terrify the people, who met together in defiance of the lawt. Writs were issued against many who were called Cameronians, who were outlawed, and therefore left their houses, and travelled about the country, till at length they collected into a body, and declared that the king had forfeited the crown of that kingdom by renouncing the covenant; but the duke of Monmouth, being sent to disperse them, routed them at Bothwell-bridge, killing four hundred, and taking twelve hundred prisoners; two ministers were hanged, and two hundred banished to the plantations, who were all lost at seat. Cameron their preacher fell in battle, but Hackston and Cargill, the two other preachers, died with invincible courage; as did all the rest, who were offered their lives if they would say, God bless the king! Hackston had both his hands cut off, which he suffered with a constancy and rapture that were truly amazing. When both his hands were cut off, he asked whether they would cut off his feet too? And notwithstanding all his loss of blood, after he was hanged, and his heart taken out of his body, it was alive upon the hangman's knife.
At length, says bishop Burnet §, things came to that extremity, that the people saw they must come to church or be undone but they came in so awkward a manner, that it was visible they did not come to serve God, but to save their substance, for they were talking or sleeping during the whole service. This introduced a sort of atheism among the younger people. But the inquisition was so terrible, that numbers fled from their native country, and * Burnet, vol. 1. p. 348. P. 223, 224.
† Burnet, vol. 2. p. 64. 155. 182. 266. 268, 269. P. 341.
settled in the plantations. These methods of conversion were subversive of Christianity, and a reproach to a Protestant church and nation; but oppression and tyranny had overspread the English dominions; the hearts of all good men failed them for fear, and for looking after those things that were coming on the land; the clouds were gathering thick over their heads, and there was no other defence against an inundation of Popery and slavery, but the thin security of the king's life.
To return to England: when the king had made way for a Popish successor, by introducing an arbitrary and tyrannical government, his majesty began to think himself neglected, all the court being made to the rising sun; upon which he was heard to say in some passion, that if he lived a month longer he would find a way to make himself easy for the remainder of his life*. This was interpreted as a design to change hands, by sending abroad the duke of York, and recalling the duke of Monmouth; which struck terror into the Popish party, and is thought to have hastened his death, for he was seized with a kind of apoplexy February 2, and died on the Friday following, February 6, 1684 -5, in the fifty-fourth year of his age, not without violent suspicion of poison, either by snuff, or an infusion in broth, as bishop Burnet and others of undoubted credit have assured us, the body not being suffered to be thoroughly examined +.
King Charles II. was a gentleman of wit and good-nature‡, till his temper was soured in the latter part of his life by his Popish counsellors. His court was a scene of luxury and all kinds of lewdness, and his profuse expenses upon unlawful pleasures, reduced him to the necessity of becoming a pensioner of France. If he had any religion, it was that of a disguised Papist, or rather a Deist; but he was strangely entangled, during his whole life, with the obligations he had been brought under by the Roman Catholics. He aimed at being an absolute monarch, but would be at no farther trouble to accomplish it, than to give his corrupt ministry liberty to do what they pleased. The king had a great many vices, says Burnet§, but few virtues to correct them .
Welwood's Mem. p. 123, sixth ed.
+ Burnet, vol. 2. p. 460.
Charles the Second, " as a gentleman (says Dr. Warner), was liked by every body, but beloved by nobody; and as a prince, though he might be respected for his station, yet his death could not be lamented by a lover of his country, upon any other motive, but that it introduced a much worse monarch on the throne than he was himself." There was ground, in this view, for the remark of Dr. Gregory Sharpe ; that if the English were in tears, when the king died in 1685, it was more to lament the succession, than the funeral." Ecclesiastical History, vol. 2. p. 929. Sharpe's Introduction to Universal History, p. 256. second ed. Vol. 2. p. 165.
To this it may be added, that Charles II. was characterised, as having never said a foolish thing nor done a wise one. A late writer of dramatical history, Mr. Thomas Davis, is supposed to have contradicted this by an anecdote he has given. Mrs. Marshall, the first actress on the king's theatre, and a woman of virtue, having been tricked into a sham marriage by a nobleman, king Charles II. obliged him to settle an annual income on her. This indicated equity of mind as well as wisdom. Roscius Anglicanus, p. 19. 24, in the Literary Museum, 8vo. printed 1792.-ED.
Long since Mr. Neal's history was published, it has appeared that there was
Religion was with him no more than an engine of state. He hated the Nonconformists, because they appeared against the prerogative, and received the fire of all the enemies of the constitution and of the Protestant religion with an unshaken firmness. His majesty's chief concern at last was for his brother's succession; and when he came to die, he spoke not a word of religion, nor showed any remorse for his ill-spent life: he expressed no tenderness for his subjects, nor any concern for his queen, but only recommended his mistresses and their children to his brother's regard. So that no Englishman, or friend of his country, could weep at his death, from any other motive, than his keeping out a successor who was worse than himself.
FROM THE DEATH OF KING CHARLES II. TO KING JAMES II.'s DECLARATION FOR LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE.
WHEN the news of king Charles's decease was spread over the city, a pensive sadness was visible in most countenances for the fate of the kingdom. His brother James, who succeeded him, told the privy-council at his first meeting them, that "as he would never depart from any branch of the prerogative, so he would not invade any man's property, but would preserve the government as by law established in church and state +." Which graa design in the reign of Charles II. to place a bishop in Virginia; and that the letters patent for that purpose were actually made out, and are extant. The design failed, because the whole endowment was fixed on the customs. Secker's Letter to Mr. Horatio Walpole, p. 17.-ED.
* Bishop Burnet says, that the proclamation of the king "was a heavy solemnity; few tears were shed for the former, nor were there any shouts of joy for the present king." It appears that the bishop, who was then abroad, was misinformed in this matter: for Dr. Calamy, who heard the king proclaimed, assures us, that his heart ached within him at the acclamations made upon the occasion; which, as far as he could observe, were very general: though he never saw so universal a concern as was visible in all men's countenances at that time: for great numbers had very terrifying apprehensions of what was to be expected. The doctor observes, that it however very sensibly discovered the changeableness of this world, that king James should so quietly succeed his brother without any thing like a dispute or contest; when, but five years before, a majority of three houses of commons were so bent upon excluding him, that nothing could satisfy them, if this were not compassed. Calamy's Historical Account of his own Life, vol. 1. p. 95. MS.—ED.
This speech (bishop Burnet adds) was magnified as a security far greater than any that laws could give." The common phrase was, "We have now the word of a king, and a word never yet broken." Of this Dr. Calamy gives a confirmation on the authority of a person of character and worth, who heard Dr. Sharp, afterward archbishop of York, as he was preaching at St. Lawrence Jewry at the time, when king James gave this assurance, break out into language to this effect: "As to our religion, we have the word of the king, which (with reverence be it spoken) is as sacred as my text." This high flight was much noticed then, and often recollected afterward. The doctor had cause to reflect on it with regret when he was, for preaching against Popery at his own parish-church of St. Giles, the first of the