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three kingdoms, from the protestants, to their spiritual ene mies, but to throw open the doors of the church and universities to the catholics; and this attempt was soon made. The king sent a letter to the vice-chancellor of Cambridge, commanding the university to admit one Francis, a monk of the order of St. Benedict, to the degrees of master of arts, without exacting the usual oaths. The university refused; and the king, after suspending the vice-chancellor, desisted from any farther attack upon that seminary27. But the compliant temper of the university of Oxford, which had, in a formal decree, made profession of passive obedience, gave James hopes of better success there, though he carried still higher his pretensions.

The presidentship of Magdalen college, one of the richest foundations in Europe, having become vacant, a day was appointed for a new election; and one Farmer, a recent convert to popery, was recommended by a royal mandate, accompanied with a dispensation from the usual oaths. The fellows of the college entreated the king to recal his mandate, or recommend some person of a less exceptional character than Farmer; but the day of election arriving before they received any answer, they chose as their president Dr. Hough, a man of learning, virtue, and spirit, who braved the threatening danger.

A citation was issued for the members of the college to appear before the court of high commission, in order to answer for their disobedience. The matter came to a regular hearing; and such articles of folly and vice were proved against Farmer, as justified the fellows in rejecting him without having recourse to the legal disqualifications under which he laboured. The commissioners, however, proceeded to the deprivation of Dr. Hough, and a new mandate was issued in favour of Parker, lately created bishop of Oxford; a man of dissolute morals, but who, like Farmer, had atoned for all

27. Kennet. Ralph.

his vices by his willingness to embrace the Romish religion. The college replied, that no new election could be made till the former should be legally annulled. A new ecclesiastical commission was issued for that purpose; and the commissioners, attended by three troops of horse, repaired to Oxford; expelled the refractory president and all the fellows, except two, who had uniformly adhered to the king's mandate, and installed Parker in the presidentship of Magdalen college18.

Of all the acts of violence committed during the tyrannical reign of James II. this may perhaps be considered as the most illegal and arbitrary. It accordingly occasioned universal discontent, and gave a general alarm to the clergy. The church, the chief pillar of the throne, and which, during the two last reigns, had supported it with such unshaken firmness; the church, which had carried the prerogative so high, and which, if protected in her rights, would have carried it still higher; the church, now seeing those rights invaded, and her very fountains in danger of being poisoned took refuge in the generous principles of liberty, and resolved to preserve that constitution which her complacency had almost ruined.

The king however, was determined to adhere to his arbitrary measures; and as a balance to this reverend body, whose opposition he had wantonly roused, he endeavoured to gain the protestant dissenters, and to form an unnatural coalition between them and the Roman catholics. With that view, he took occasion frequently to extol the benefits of toleration, and to exclaim against the severities of the church of England. He commanded an enquiry to be made into all the oppressive prosecutions which the dissenters had suffered, as a prelude to yielding them security or redress; and by means of that ascendency which the crown had acquir

28. Burnet, book iv. MS. account by Dr. Smith, ap. Macpherson, Hist. Brit. vol. i. Hume, vol. viii.


ed over the corporations, he every where thrust them into the magistracy, under various pretences, in hopes of being able to procure a parliament that would give its sanction to the repeal of the test act, and the penal laws against nonconformity 29. He affected to place them on the same footing with the catholics; and in order to widen the breach between them and the church, whose favour he despaired of recovering, but whose loyalty he never suspected, he issued anew his declaration of indulgence, and ordered it to be read in the pulpit by all the established clergy 30.

A. D. 1668.

This order was considered, by the whole ecclesiastical body, as an insult on the hierarchy, and an insidious at tempt to drag them to disgrace; for as the penal laws against non-conformists had, in a great measure, been procured by the church, the clergy were sensible, that any countenance which they might give to the dispensing power would be regarded as a deserting of their fundamental principles. They determined, therefore, almost universally, rather to hazard the vengeance of the crown, by disobe dience, than to fulfil a command they could not approve, and expose themselves, at the same time, to the certain hatred and contempt of the people.

Conformable to this resolution, and with a view to encourage every one to persevere in it, six bishops, namely, Lloyd of St. Asaph, Ken of Bath and Wells, Turner of Ely, Lake of Chichester, White of Peterborough, and Trelawney of Bristol, met privately with Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, in his palace at Lambeth, and concerted the form of a petition to the king; beseeching him not to insist upon their reading the declaration of indulgence, as being founded on a prerogative repeatedly declared illegal by parliament'. Enraged at this unexpected opposition to his fa

29. Burnet, book iv. 30. Id. Ibid. See also Kennet, Ralph, Eccard. 31. See the petition itself, ap Hume, vol. iii. p. 266.


vourite measures, James not only refused their request, but ordered them to be committed to the Tower, on their refusing to give bail for their appearance before the court of king's bench, to answer for what was denominated an high misdemeanour, and afterward prosecuted as a LIBEL.

James was not insensible of the danger of pursuing this tyrannical prosecution, though his pride would not allow him to desist. But the circumstances attending the commitment of the bishops ought still farther to have opened his eyes, and made him perceive the dreadful precipice upon which he was rushing. Though they were carried by water to the Tower, multitudes of anxious spectators crowded the banks of the river, and at once implored the blessing of those venerable prelates, and offered their petitions to heaven for the safety of the persecuted guardians of their religion. Even the soldiers, seized with the contagion of the same spirit, are said to have flung themselves on their knees, and craved the benediction of the holy prisoners, whom they were appointed to guard32.

A like scene was exhibited, when the bishops were con ducted to trial. Persons of all conditions were affected with the awful crisis to which affairs were reduced, and considered the decision of the cause depending, as of the last import ance to both king and people. Twenty-nine temporal peers attended the prisoners to Westminster-hall; and such crowds of gentry joined in the procession, that little room was left for the populace to enter. The trial, which lasted near ten hours, was managed with ability by the counsel on both sides, and listened to with the most eager attention. Though the judges held their seats only during pleasure, two of them had the courage to declare against a dispensing power in the crown, as inconsistent with all law; and if the dispensing power was not legal, it followed of course, that the bishops could not be criminal in refusing obedience to an illegal


32. Burnet. Ralph. Hume.

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command. The jury at length withdrew; and when they brought in their verdict, " Not Guilty," the populace, who filled Westminster-hall and all Palace-yard, shouted thrice with such vehemence, that the sound reached the city33, The loudest acclamations were immediately echoed from street to street, bonfires were lighted, and every other demonstration given of public joy34. Nor were the rejoicings on account of this legal victory confined to the capital; they rapidly spread over the whole kingdom, and found their way even into the camp35; where the triumph of the church was announced to the king in the shouts of his mercenary army 36.

If James had made use of that naturally sound, though narrow understanding, with which he was endowed, he would now have perceived, that the time was come for him to retract, unless he meant seriously to sacrifice his crown to his religious prejudices. But so blinded was he by bigotry, and so obstinate in his arbitrary measures, that although he knew they were execrated by all orders of men in the state, a handful of Roman Catholics excepted; yet was he, by a

33. Price to Beaufort, June 30, 1688, MS. ap. Macpherson, Hist. Brit. vol. i. 34. Burnet, book iv. 35. Id. ibid.

36. In order to convince the people, that he was determined to support his authority by force of arms, if necessary, and to over-awe them by a display of his power, the king had, for two summers past, encamped his army, to the number of fifteen thousand men, on Hounslow-heath. He spent much of his time in training and disciplining these troops; and a popish chapel was openly erected in the midst of the camp, with a view of bringing over the soldiers to that communion. But the few converts that the priests made, were treated with such contempt and ignominy by their companions, as deterred others from following the example. The king had reviewed his army on the same morning that the jury gave in their verdict in favour of the prosecuted prelates; and having afterward retired into the tent of lord Feversham, the general, he was suddenly alarmed with a great uproar in the camp, attended with the most extravagant expressions of tumultuous joy. He anxiously enquired the cause, and was told by Feversham, "It was nothing but the rejoicing of the soldiers for the acquittal of the bishops." "And do you call that nothing?" exclaimed James, ready to burst with rage and indignation. Hume, vol. viii.

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