« 上一頁繼續 »
pretence whatsoever, to take up arms against the king: and that I do abhor that traitorous position of taking arms by his authority against his person, or against those that are commissioned by him in pursuance of such commission. And I do swear, that I will not at any time endeavour the alteration of the government either in church or state. So help me God." The design of the bill was to enable the ministry to prosecute their destructive schemes against the constitution and the Protestant religion, without fear of opposition even from the parliament itself*. The chief speakers for the bill were, the lord-treasurer and the lord-keeper, lord Danby and Finch, with bishop Morley and Ward; but the earl of Shaftesbury, duke of Buckingham, lord Hollis, and Halifax, laid open the mischievous designs and consequences of it: it was considered as disinheriting men of their birthright, to shut them out from the right of election by an insnaring oath, as well as destructive of the privilege of parliament, which was to vote freely in all cases without any previous obligation; that the peace of the nation would be best secured by making good laws; and that oaths and tests without these would be no real security; scrupulous men might be fettered by them, but that the bulk of mankind would boldly take any test, and as easily break through it, as had appeared in the late times. The bill was committed, and debated paragraph by paragraph, but the heats occasioned by it were so violent, that the king came unexpectedly to the house June 9, and prorogued the parliamentt; so the bill was dropped; but the debates of the lords upon the intended oath being made public, were ordered to be burnt. Two proclamations were republished on this occasion; one to prevent seditious discourses in coffeehouses, the other to put a stop to the publishing seditious libels.
The court had reason to desire the passing this bill, because the oath had been already imposed upon the Nonconformists; and the court-clergy had been preaching in their churches, for several years, that passive obedience and non-resistance were the received doctrines of the church of England; the bishops had possessed the king and his brother with the belief of it, and if it had now passed into a law, the whole nation had been bound in chains, and the court might have done as they pleased. But the parliament saw through the design; and Dr. Burnet says, he opened the reserve to the duke of York, by telling him," that there
• Baxter's Life, part 3. p. 167. Burnet, vol. 2. p. 130–134.
The immediate occasion of the king's breaking up the sessions, was a dispute concerning privilege between the two houses, to which another question gave birth, while the bill for the new test was pending. Of this bill it was justly said, "No conveyancer could have drawn up a dissettlement of the whole birthright of England in more compendious terms." The debate on it lasted five several days, in the house of lords, before the bill was committed to a committee of the whole house, and eleven or twelve days afterward: and the house sat many days till eight or nine at night, and sometimes till midnight. But, through the interruption given to it, by the matter just mentioned, the bill was never reported from the committee to the house; a most happy escape! Burnet's History, vol. 2. p. 133; and Dr. Calamy's Historical Account of his own Life, MS. p. 63.—E».
* Page 91.
was no trusting to disputable opinions, that there were distinctions and reserves in those who had maintained these points; and that when men saw a visible danger of being first undone, and then burnt, they would be inclined to the shortest way of arguing, and save themselves the best way they could; interest and selfpreservation being powerful motives." This might be wholesome advice to the duke, but implies such a secret reserve as may cover the most wicked designs, and is not fit for the lips of a Protestant divine, nor even of an honest man.
The daring insolence of the Papists, who had their regular clergy in every corner of the town, was so great, that they not only challenged the Protestant divines to disputations, but threatened to assassinate such as preached openly against their tenets; which confirmed the lords and commons in their persuasion, of the absolute necessity of entering into more moderate and healing measures with Protestant dissenters, notwithstanding the inflexible steadiness of the bishops against it. Upon this occasion the duke of Buckingham, lately commenced patriot, made the following speech in the house of lords, which is inserted in the commons' journal. "My lords, there is a thing called liberty, which, whatsoever some men may think, is that the people of England are fondest of, it is that they will never part with, and is that his majesty in his speech has promised to take particular care of. This, my lords, in my opinion, can never be done without giving an indulgence to all Protestant dissenters. It is certainly a very uneasy kind of life to any man, that has either Christian charity, humanity, or good-nature, to see his fellow-subjects daily abused, divested of their liberty and birthrights, and miserably thrown out of their possessions and freeholds, only because they cannot agree with others in some opinions and niceties of religion, which their consciences will not give them leave to consent to, and which, even by the confession of those who would impose them, are no ways necessary to salvation.
"But, my lords, besides this, and all that may be said upon it, in order to the improvement of our trade and increase of the wealth, strength, and greatness, of this nation, (which, with your leave, I shall presume to discourse of some other time,) there is, methinks, in this notion of persecution, a very gross mistake both as to the point of government and the point of religion: there is so as to the point of government, because it makes every man's safety depend upon the wrong place, not upon the governors, or man's living well towards the civil government established by law, but upon his being transported with zeal for every opinion that is held by those that have power in the church that is in fashion; and I conceive it is a mistake in religion, because it is positively against the express doctrine and example of Jesus Christ. Nay, my lords, as to our Protestant religion, there is something in it yet worse; for we Protestants maintain, that none of those opinions which Christians differ about are infallible, and therefore in us it is somewhat an inexcusable conception, that men
ought to be deprived of their inheritance, and all the certain conveniences and advantages of life, because they will not agree with us in our uncertain opinions of religion.
"My humble motion therefore to your lordships is, that you will give leave to bring in a bill of indulgence to all Protestant dissenters. I know very well, that every peer in this realm has a right to bring into parliament any bill he conceives to be useful to his nation; but I thought it more respectful to your lordships to ask your leave before; and I cannot think the doing it will be any prejudice to the bill, because I am confident the reason, the prudence, and the charitableness, of it, will be able to justify it to this house, and to the whole world." Accordingly the house gave his grace leave to bring in a bill to this purpose; but this and some others were lost by the warm debates which arose in the house upon the impeachment of the earl of Danby, and which occasioned the sudden prorogation of the parliament June 9, without having passed one public bill; after which his majesty, upon farther discontent, prorogued them for fifteen months, which gave occasion to a question in the ensuing session, whether they were not legally dissolved.
From this time to the discovery of the Popish plot, parliaments were called and adjourned, says Mr. Coke, by order from France to French ministers and pensioners, to carry on the design of promoting the Catholic cause in masquerade. The king himself was a known pensioner of Lewis XIV., who had appropriated a fund of twenty millions of livres for the service of these kingdoms, out of which the duke of York, and the prime ministers and leaders of parties, received the wages of their commission, according as the French ambassador represented their merit. The pensioners made it their business to raise the cry of the church's danger, and of the return of forty-one. This was spread over the whole nation in a variety of pamphlets and newspapers, &c. written by their own hirelings; and if they met with opposition from the friends of the country, the authors and printers were sure to be fined and imprisoned. A reward of 50l. was offered for the printer of a pamphlet, supposed to be written by Andrew Marvel, entitled, "An account of the growth of power, and a seasonable argument to all grand juries;" and 1001. for the sons who conveyed it to the press. No man could publish any thing on the side of liberty and the Protestant religion, but with the hazard of a prison, and a considerable fine; nor is this to be wondered at, considering that Sir Roger L'Estrange was the sole licencer of the press.
This gentleman was a pensioner of the court, and a champion for the prerogative; he was a younger son of sir Hammond L'Estrange of Norfolk, who, having conceived hopes of surprising the town of Lynn for his majesty in the year 1644, obtained
Detect. p. 500.
a commission from the king for that purpose, but being apprehended and tried by a court-martial, for coming into the parliament's quarters as a spy, he was condemned, and ordered to be executed in Smithfield January 2, 1644-5; but by the intercession of some powerful friends he was reprieved, and kept in Newgate several years. His sufferings made such an impression on his spirit, that on the king's restoration, he was resolved to make reprisals on the whole party. He was master of a fine English style, and of a great deal of keen wit, which he employed, without any regard to truth or candour, in the service of Popery and arbitrary power, and in vilifying the best and most undoubted patriots. Never did man fight so, to force the dissenters into the church, says Coke; and when he had got them there, branded them for trimmers, and would turn them out again. He was a most mercenary writer, and had a pen at the service of those who would pay him best. Forty-one was his retreat against all who durst contend against him and the prerogative. Sir Roger observed no measures with his adversaries in his Weekly Observators, Citt and Bumpkin, Foxes and Firebrands, and other pamphlets; and when the falseness of his reasoning and insolence of his sarcasm were exposed, like a second Don Quixote, he called aloud to the civil magistrate to come in to his aid. He represented the religion of the dissenters, as a medley of foily and enthusiasm; their principles and tempers as turbulent, seditious, and utterly inconsistent with the peace of the state; their pretences as frivolous and often hypocritical. He excited the government to use the utmost severities to extirpate them out of the kingdom. He furnished the clergy with pulpit materials to rail at them, which they improved with equal eagerness and indiscretion; so that Popery was forgot, and nothing so common in their mouths as forty-on. L'Estrange published some of the incautious expressions of some of the dissenters in the late times, which he picked out of their writings, to excite the populace against the whole party, as if it had not been easy to make reprisals from the ranting expressions of the
Dr. Grey says, that sir Roger L'Estrange was not the author of this work; that the first part was written by Dr. Nalson, and the other parts, if he mistook not, by Mr. Ware, the son of sir James Ware, the great antiquarian. The most valuable of sir Roger L'Estrange's publications is reckoned to be his translation of Josephus. His style, which Mr. Neal commends, has been severely censured by other writers. Mr. Gordon says, that "his productions are not fit to be read by any who have taste and good-breeding: they are full of technical terms, of phrases picked up in the streets, from apprentices and porters, and nothing can be more low and nauMr. Granger observes, that L'Estrange was one of the great corrupters of our language, by excluding vowels and other letters commonly pronounced, and introducing “pert and affected phrases." He was licenser of the press to Charles and James II., and died 11th of December, 1704, ætat. eighty-eight. Queen Mary, we are told, made this anagram on his name :
Roger L'Estrange, "Lying Strange Roger." British Biography, vol. 6. p. 317. Granger's History of England, vol. 4. p. 70.— ED.
+ Burnet, vol. 2. p. 252. Rapin.
tories of this reign: for these exploits he was maintained by the court, and knighted: and yet when the tide turned in the reign of king James II. he forgot his raillery against the principles of the Nonconformists, and wrote as zealously for liberty of conscience, on the foot of the dispensing power, as any man in the kingdom.
But in answer to the invectives of this venal tribe, a pamphlet was published with the approbation of several ministers, entitled, The Principles and Practices of several Nonconformists, shewing that their religion is no other than what is professed in the church of England. The authors declare*, that they heartily own the Protestant reformation in doctrine, as contained in the articles of the church of England—that they are willing to embrace bishop Usher's model of church-government, which king Charles I. · admitted-they hold it unlawful, by the constitution and laws of this kingdom, for subjects to take arms against the king, his office, authority, or person, or those legally commissioned and authorized by him; nor will they endeavour any alteration in church or state by any other means than by prayer to God, and by petitioning their superiors-they acknowledge the king's supremacy over all persons, &c. within his dominions-they declare that their doctrine tends to no unquietness or confusion, any more than the doctrine of the church of England. And they think it not fair dealing in their adversaries, to repeat and aggravate all intemperate passages vented in the late times, when impetuous actings hurried men into extremities; and they apprehend it would not tend to the advantage of the conforming clergy, if collections should be published of all their imprudences and weaknesses, as has been done on the other side-they abhor seditious conventicles, and affirm, that insurrections were never contrived in their meetings, nor in any whereof they are conscious. Experience, say they, hath witnessed our peaceableness, and that disloyalty or sedition is not to be found among us, by the most inquisitive of our adversaries. They desire the church of England to take notice, that they have no mind to promote Popish designs; that they are aware of the advantage that Papists make of the divisions of Protestants-that the invectives thrown out against them are made up only of big and swelling words, or of the indiscretions of the few, with which they are not chargeable they do not pretend to be courtiers or philosophers, but they teach their people to fear God and honour the king; to love the brotherhood, to bridle their tongues, to be meek and lowly, and do their own work with quietness t
• To discredit Mr. Corbet's piece, Dr. Grey refers to Anthony Wood's character of him, as a preacher of sedition, and a vilifier of the king and his party. But with such writers every sentiment that does not breathe the spirit of passive obedience is seditious. Besides, Mr. Corbet's vindication turned on notorious facts.-ED. On the 15th of January, 1675-6, died Dorothy the wife of Richard Cromwell, in the forty-ninth year of her age; who, it is thought, never saw her husband after he retired into France. She was the daughter of Richard Major, esq. of Hursly in Hampshire, where she was married on the 1st of May 1619. The cha