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being taken up by warrants, and secured in jails, and in the public halls; as were many country whig gentlemen, in Yorkcastle, Hull, and the prisons in all parts of England, which had this good effect, that it kept them out of harm's way, while many of their friends were ruined by joining the duke; some from a persuasion that the late king was married to his mother; and others in hopes of a deliverance from Popery and arbitrary
The king, elated with success, resolved to let both whigs and dissenters feel the weight of the arm of a conqueror: his army lived upon free-quarters in the west, and treated all' who were supposed to be disaffected with great rudeness and violence.* Some days after Monmouth's defeat, colonel Kirk ordered several of the prisoners to be hung up at Taunton, without any trial or form of law, while he and his company was dancing, revelling, and drinking healths, at a neighbouring window, with a variety of music, from whence they beheld, with a more than brutish triumph, the dreadful spectacle. The jails being full of prisoners, the king appointed lord-chief-justice Jefferies to go the western circuit, whose cruel behaviour surpassed all that had been ever heard of in a civilized nation: he was always drunk, either with wine or vengeance. When the juries found persons not guilty, he threatened and confined them, till they brought in a verdict to his mind; as in the case of the old lady Lisle, who was beheaded, for admitting Mr. Hicks, a Nonconformist minister, into her house, though the jury brought her in three times not guilty; and she solemnly declared, that she knew not that he had been in the duke's army. He persuaded many of the prisoners to plead guilty, in hopes of favour, and then taking advantage of their confession, ordered their immediate execution, without giving them a minute's time to say their prayers. Mr. Tutchin, who wrote the Observator, was sentenced to be imprisoned seven years, and to be whipped once every year through all the towns in Dorsetshire; upon which he petitioned the king that he might be hanged . Bishop Burnet says, that in several places in the west, there were executed near six hundred persons, and that the quarters of two or three hundred were fixed upon gibbets, and hung upon trees all over the country for fifty or sixty miles about, to the terror and even annoyance of travellers. The manner in which he treated the prisoners, was barbarous and inhuman; and his behaviour towards some of the nobility and gentry who were well affected, but appeared to the character of some of the criminals, would have amazed one, says bishop Burnet, if done by a bashaw in Turkey. The king had advice of his proceedings every day, and spoke of them in a style neither becoming the majesty nor mercy of a great prince. And Jefferies, besides satiating himself with blood, got great sums of money, by selling pardons to such as
Ibid. p. 44, second edit.
* Burnet, vol. 3. p. 43, Edin. edition.
Bennet's Memoirs, p. 374, 375, second edit.
were able to purchase them, from 10l. to fourteen thousand guineas apiece*.
After the executions in the west, the king, being in the height of his power, resolved to be revenged of his old enemies the whigs, by making examples of their chief leaders: alderman Cornish, who had signalized himself in prosecuting the Popish plot, and was frequently in company with the late lord Russel, was taken off the Exchange October 13, and within little more than a week tried, condemned, and executed, in Cheapside, for high-treason, without any tolerable evidence, and his quarters set upon Guildhall. On the same day Mrs. Gaunt, a dissenter, who spent a great part of her life in acts of charity, visiting the jails, and looking after the poor of what persuasion soever, having entertained Burton, one of Monmouth's men, in her house, he, by an unheard-of baseness, while she was looking out for an opportunity to send him out of the kingdom, went out and accused her for harbouring him, and by that means saved his own life by taking away hers: she was burnt alive at Tyburn, and died with great resolution and devotion +. Mr. Bateman a surgeon, Mr. Rouse, Mr. Fernerley, colonel Ayloffe, Mr. Nelthorpe, and others, suffered in like manner. Lord Stamford was admitted to bail, and lord Delamere was tried by his peers, and acquitted. Many who had corresponded with the duke of Monmouth absconded, and had proclamations against them, as John Trenchard, esq. Mr. Speke, and others. But all who suffered in this cause expressed such a zeal for the Protestant religion, which they apprehended in danger, as made great impressions on the spectators. Some say the king was hurried on by Jefferies; but if his own inclinations had not run strong the same way, and if his priests had not thought it their interest to take off so many active Protestants who opposed their measures, they would not have let that butcher loose, says Burnet, to commit so many barbarous acts of cruelty, as struck a universal horror over the body of the nation. It was a bloody summer, and a dangerous time for honest men to live in.
When the king met his parliament November 9, he congratulated them on the success of his arms; but told them, that in order to prevent any new disturbances, he was determined to keep the present army together; and "let no man (says his majesty) take exceptions that some officers are not qualified, for they are most of them known to me for the loyalty of their principles and practices; and therefore to deal plainly with you, after having had the benefit of their services in a time of need and danger, I will neither expose them to disgrace, nor myself to the want of them."-Thus we were to have a standing army under Popish officers, in defiance of the penal laws and test. The
The reader is referred to the History of the Town of Taunton for an ample account of the progress and defeat of the duke of Monmouth, and a minute detail of the subsequent severities of Kirk and Jefferies, p. 135-170.—ED.
+ Burnet, p. 45.
commons would have given them an act of indemnity for what was past, but the king would not accept it; and because the house was not disposed to his dispensing power, he prorogued them November 20, when they had sat only eleven days; and after many successive prorogations, in the space of two years, dissolved them*.
The prosecution of the dissenters, which was carried on with all imaginable severity this and the last year, forced some of their ministers into the church; but it had a different and more surprising influence upon others, who had the courage in these difficult times, to renounce the church as a persecuting establishment, and to take their lot among the Nonconformists; as the reverend Mr. John Spademan, M.A. of Swayton in Lincolnshire; Mr. John Rastrick, vicar of Kirton near Boston; Mr. Burroughs of Frampton; Mr. Scoffin of Brotherton; Mr. Quip of Moreton; and a few others; who could be influenced by no other principle but conscience in a cause which had nothing in this world to recommend it but truth, attended with bonds and imprisonment, and the loss of all things.
Great were the oppressions of those who frequented the separate meetings in several counties; the informers broke in upon sir John Hartoppe, Mr. Fleetwood, and others, at Stoke-Newington, to levy distresses for conventicles, to the value of 6 or 7,000Z.: the like at Enfield, Hackney, and all the neighbouring villages near London. The justices and confiding clergy were equally diligent in their several parishes. Injunctions were sent out from several of the bishops, under the seal of their offices, requiring all church-wardens to present such as did not repair to church, nor receive the sacrament at Easter; which were read publicly in the churches of Hertfordshire, Essex, &c. And the juries at the assizes gave it as their opinion, that the dissenters should be effectually prosecuted; but the scandalous villanies and perjuries of the informers made wise men abhor the trade; however, so terrible were the times, that many families and ministers removed with their effects to New-England, and other plantations in America; among whom we may reckon the reverend and worthy Mr. Samuel Lee, the ejected minister of Bishopgate, who in his return to his flock, after the Revolution, was made prisoner by the French, and carried to St. Maloes, where he perished in a dungeon, under the hands of those whose tender mercies are cruel§. Many ministers were fined and imprisoned, and great numbers of their most substantial hearers cited into the commons, their names being fixed upon the doors of their parish-churches; and if they did not appear, an excommunication and a capias followed, unless they found means, by presents of wine, by gold
* Burnet, p. 70, 71.
+ Calamy's Abridgment, p. 460, &c.
Calamy, p. 372, 373; or Palmer's Nonconformists' Memorial, vol. 2. p. 163
§ Palmer's Noncon. Mem. vol. 1. p. 95, 96.
in the fingers of a pair of gloves, or some effectual bribe, to get themselves excused; for which, among others, the name of Dr. Pinfold is famous to this day.
The dissenters continued to take the most prudent measures to cover their private meetings from their adversaries. They assembled in small numbers-they frequently shifted their places of worship, and met together late in the evenings, or early in the mornings-there were friends without doors, always on the watch to give notice of approaching danger-when the dwellings of dissenters joined, they made windows or holes in the walls, that the preacher's voice might be heard in two or three houses— they had sometimes private passages from one house to another, and trap doors for the escape of the minister, who went always in disguise, except when he was discharging his office-in country-towns and villages, they were admitted through backyards and gardens into the house, to avoid the observation of neighbours and passengers-for the same reason they never sung psalms-and the minister was placed in such an inward part of the house, that his voice might not be heard in the streets-the doors were always locked, and a sentinel placed near them to give the alarm, that the preacher might escape by some private passage, with as many of the congregation as could avoid the informers. But notwithstanding all their precautions, spies and false brethren crept in among them in disguise, their assemblies were frequently interrupted, and great sums of money raised by fines or compositions, to the discouragement of trade and industry, and enriching the officers of the spiritual courts.
Thus were the Nonconformists ground between the Papists on the one hand, and the high-church clergy on the other; while the former made their advantage of the latter, concluding, that when the dissenters were destroyed, or thoroughly exasperated, and the clergy divided among themselves, they should be a match for the hierarchy, and capable of establishing that religion they had been so long aiming to introduce. With this view, swarms of Jesuits and regular priests were sent for from abroad; Jesuits' schools, and other seminaries, were opened in London and the country; mass-houses were erected in the most considerable towns: four Roman-Catholic bishops were consecrated in the royal chapel, and exercised their functions under the character of vicars apostolical; their regular clergy appeared at Whitehall and St. James's in their habits, and were unwearied in their attempts to seduce the common people. The way to preferment was to be a Catholic, or to declare for the prerogative; all stateaffairs being managed by such men. An open correspondence was held with Rome and many pamphlets were dispersed, to
• Dr. Pinfold was a gentleman of the long robe, and was the king's advocate in the prosecution of bishop Compton. But though he stood at the chancellor's elbow and took notes, while the bishop's counsel were pleading, he said nothing by way of reply. Bishop Compton's Life, p. 37.-ED.
make proselytes to the Romish faith, or at least to effect a coalition. Multitudes of the king's subjects frequented the Popish chapels; some changed their profession; and all men were forbid to speak disrespectfully of the king's religion.
At length the eyes of many of the clergy began to be opened, and they judged it necessary to preach against the Popish doctrines, that they might recover the people who were deserting in numbers, and rescue the Protestant religion from the danger into which their own follies had brought it. The king being acquainted with this, by the advice of his priests sent circular letters to the bishops, with an order, prohibiting the inferior clergy from preaching on the controverted points of religion; which many complained of, though it was no more than king James and Charles I. had done before. However, when their mouths were stopped in the pulpit, some of the most learned and zealous agreed to fight the Catholics with their own weapons, and to publish small pamphlets for the benefit of the vulgar, in defence of the Protestant doctrines. When a Popish pamphlet was in the press, they made interest with the workmen, and got the sheets as they were wrought off, so that an answer was ready as soon as the pamphlet was published. There was hardly a week in which some sermon or small treatise against Popery was not printed and dispersed among the common people; which, in the compass of a year or two, produced a valuable set of controversial writings against the errors of that church *. The chief writers were, Dr. Tillotson, Stillingfleet, Tenison, Patrick, Wake, Whitby, Sharp, Atterbury, Williams, Aldrich, Burnet, Fowler, &c. t, men of great name and renown, who gained immortal honour, and were afterward advanced to the highest dignities in the church. Never was a bad cause more weakly managed by the Papists, nor a more complete victory obtained by the Protestants.
But the church-party, not content with their triumph, have of late censured the Nonconformists, for appearing only as spectators, and not joining them in the combat. But how could the clergy expect this from a set of men whom they had been persecuting for above twenty years, and who had the yoke of oppression still lying on their necks? Had not the Nonconformists been beforehand with them in their morning exercises against Popery? And did not Dr. Owen, Mr. Pool, Baxter, Clarkson, and others, write against the errors of the church of Rome, throughout the whole reign of king Charles II.? Had not the Nonconformists stood in the gap, and exposed themselves suffi
A vast collection of these pieces was published about fifty years ago, in three volumes folio, under the direction of Dr. Gibson, bishop of London. But this contained only a part of the tracts written by the Protestants: and even the catalogues of them drawn up by Dr. Wake, Dr. Gee, and Mr. Francis Peck, were defective in the titles of them. Birch's Life of Archbishop Tillotson, p. 127.-ED.
+ Burnet, vol. 3. p. 79, 80. Edin. edit.
Calamy, p. 373; and Peirce's Vindication, p. 266.