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For, since I begun my knowledge of him, on the 13th of June last, I have seen so very many papers of his own hand-writing, (I mean his true hand, not his false) that, now I may presume to say, I think myself as well skilled in knowing his hand, as he is in counterfeiting mine.
I cannot, therefore, see how he can possibly be excused from ridiculous folly, as well as shameless subornation, in this last so very subtle an intrigue.
I must therefore, upon this occasion, crave his leave to apply one certain general observation to Robert Young in particular, that there was never yet a very great knave, but he proved, some time or other, as great a fool.
I have now, in good earnest, done with Robert Young. But, when I reflect on what I have been doing all this while, I am almost out of countenance at it. It vexes me, that, whilst my happy deliverance might have suggested to me so many better and more useful thoughts, both in regard to the publick, and my own private part in it, I should be so long diverted another way, to follow this impious wretch, through one kingdom to another, from gaol to gaol, from pillory to pillory.
Nor could I have submitted to so mean a task, had not some good and great men thought it necessary, not so much for my own vindication, much less for my own revenge, the thoughts of which are far below me as a christian, and a bishop, as for the security of other innocent persons : and that this might be some warping to my country, in time to come, against the like wicked forgeries, subornations, and false plots.
It is indeed somewhat strange, that when the laws of England are so watchful, and jealous (perhaps more than the laws of any other kingdom) in defending the liberties and properties of the subject, from all injustice, fraud, and oppression; yet they may seem not to have been equally careful, not so much as the laws of most of our neighbouring nations, in providing severely enough against that worst sort of perjury, which reaches to the taking away of men's lives.
For my part, I can assign no other reason of this defect, but the same for which the Romans had for some ages no laws against parricides; that is, that the ancient simplicity and generosity of the English nation did never imagine any Englishman could possibly be guilty of such diabolical wickedness, as to turn accusers for the sake of accusing, and in cold blood, by perjury, to destroy innocent men, to whom they were utter strangers, and who had never in the least provoked them.
I am inclined to believe, that this was the cause why our country ḥas been hitherto deficient in laws of this kind, at least since the conquest.
But if we consider the different degrees of the offences themselves, how can it posibly be thought a crime of the same magnitude, to swear a man falsely out of a part (a small part perhaps) of his goods and estate, as to swear him falsely out of his life, his honour,
his very name, as well as his whole estate; as in the case of high treason? Yet, by all our laws now in being, if I am not misinformed, the penalties of these greatest of perjuries are not much heavier than those which are inflicted for the least.
And what temptation must this be to forswearers, in matters of state especially, when the reward is like to be considerable, if they carry their point so far as to have their false plots believed to be real; and on the other hand, the penalties cannot by law be very grievous, should they be detected of swearing to plots most impudently false ? Especially considering, that such infamous persons, knowing they are safe from extraordinary punishment, particularly from punishment by death, have usually no great dread of the shame, or pain of the ordinary ones, such as pilloring and the like; as having, perhaps, been often inured to them before.
To prove what I say, I need alledge no other example but this of Robert Young. My reader finds he has stood in the pillory more than once for several petty forgeries: petty I call them, only in comparison to this. And what a mighty business were it now, if for contriving the final ruin of so many guiltless persons, and their posterity, by the basest means, Robert Young should be adjudged once more to stand in the pillory?
Or what would it have availed me, or my family, in this world at least, should I have died, as guilty of treason, by this villain's false testimony, if afterwards, upon the detection of his perjury (as I am persuaded God would not have suffered so horrid a vil. lainy to prosper, or remain long undiscovered) I say, what great comfort or compensation had it been to my family, and my friends, if, after my unjust execution, they had heard that the wicked author of it had stood once more in the pillory, and, perhaps, lost the tip of his ear?
Wherefore may it not well become the prudence of our lawgivers, upon occasion of so notorious an instance, together with some others within our memories, to review, once for all, the laws not in force against forgery and perjury? And then to adjust the distinct punishments a little more proportionably to the different guilt, and the several degrees of these crimes; for the future, I mean : God forbid I should propose, that any such law should have a retrospect, even upon Blackhead or Young!
But I presume to urge this the rather, at this time, because of the common saying, that ill manners make good laws; that is, as I understand the proverb, they render the making of them to be necessary. And, if this be true, perhaps there was never yet any one age, since the English were a nation, when the ill manners of false witnesses, their frequent subornations, perjuries, and forgeries have more deserved to be restrained by some good new laws, than this very age, wherein we live.
I could heartily wish so great a benefit might accrue to the pabe lick, by the happy discovery of this inhuman design, so as to deter ill men from attempting any more such ; then I should think my own troubles more than enough recompensed, I should ever .
rejoice in the extreme peril, to which I myself was thereby exposed.
But, however that shall happen, I am sure there is another use of this signal providence, which, by God's grace, it is in my own power to make, and, if I do not, I ought to be esteemed as the most ungrateful of men to the heavenly goodness ; that is, if I do not render it the chief business of my whole life to return some suitable thanks to Heaven for it.
I hope I may say, without vanity, that, perhaps, it is hard to meet, in some whole ages, with many examples, wherein the divine favour has snatched any private person out of such imminent danger, with a more visible hand, than it has done me out of this.
Why may I not be allowed, in all humility, to say thus much? since it is so manifest, that the destruction, or preservation of me and mine, did depend upon the clerk of the council's turning to the right-hand, or to the left, when he entered to search my house at Bromley.
By God's mercy and direction, he turned to the left ; there ex. amined all places so curiously, as to pass by no corner unobserved, yet be found nothing on that side worthy the observation of one that came on such an errand.
Whereas, had he chanced to turn, chanced do I say? I cannot believe, that any thing fell out by chance, in this whole business; but, had God permitted him to turn on the right-hand, the first room he had entered was that very parlour, wherein was deposited the fatal instrument of my death ; nor could he have missed it, but must have immediately lighted upon it, considering the punctual instructions, he had received, to search all the chimnies, and the flower-pots in them.
And, had he once found it, the writing itself, so nearly resem bling my own hand, and taken in my dwelling-house, had soon overwhelmed me with supposed guilt, without any farther need of Blackhead's, or Young's assistance.
For, in so great a surprize, a consciousness of my own innocency, whom had I to accuse, or suspect, but only Mr. Dyve and Mr. Knight themselves, for having put the association into the same flower-pot, whence I had seen them take it out? And this, indeed, had been another aggravation of my misfortune, that I should have been forced to impute so vile a treachery to persons as innocent in this, as I myself was in the association.
Moreover, let my reader but recollect the particular time, when all this happened, and I need mention no other proof, or circumstance of the marvellous greatness of my danger and escape.
It was in the beginning of May last, a time when, perhaps, there was as great a consternation, both in town and country, as was ever known in England; the English fleet was scarce yet out of the river; the Dutch, for the most part, at home; the French in the mouth of the channel, and only kept back by contrary winds; a terrible invasion hourly expected from France; the army beyond sea, that should have defended us; a real plot and confederacy by many whispered about, by the common people believed ; many persons of great quality imprisoned upon that suspicion; all men's minds prepared to hear of some sudden rising, or discovery.
In such a critical time of publick terror and distraction, how very little evidence would have sufficed to ruin any man, that had been accused with the least probability of truth and how, then, had it been possible for me to have stood the torrent of common fame and passion against so great a notoriety of fact, had that paper of a pretended association been really found in my house?
What tumult and rage had been on all sides of me, upon such a discovery! how fitly had such a story served to inflame the generality of men against me! how long a time inust it have been. before the still voice of innocency could be heard !
Would it not have been said, can he deny it to be his own • hand are not the hands of the rest well known? was it not • found in his house ? in so secret a place there? who could have
laid it there, but himself?' this, certainly, had been the universal clamour.
But, above all, what a mischievous advantage had this given, to the enemies of the church of England, to insult and triumph over it, on my account! and that, in truth, had more sensibly and deeply wounded me, than any thing else, which could have befallen myself.
But God prevented all this, by covering, if I may so say, the hand-writing against me in my chimney, as long as the finding of it there might have been to my destruction ; and then, by suffering my accusers to fetch it thence, and produce it in such a time, and in such a way, as could only tend to their own confusion.
To God, therefore, my only deliverer, be the praise : and, as I doubt not, but all good and innocent men, for the common sake of innocency vindicated, will receive this account of my deliverance with kindness and good-will, so I do most solemnly oblige myself, and all mine, to keep the grateful remembrance of it perpetual and sacred
LETTER TO A FRIEND*,
CONCERNING A FRENCH INVASION, To restore the late King James to his Throne : and what may be expected from
him, should he be successful in it. London : Printed, and are to be sold by RANDAL TAYLOR, near Amen-Corner, 1692.
QUARTO, CONTAINING THIRTY-TWO PAGES.
concerned about the French inva
* Vide the 261st Article in the Catalogue of Pamphlets in the Harleian Library,
pected from the late king, should be prove so successful, as to recover his throne? and what English subjects are bound in conscience to do, should he land in England, and demand his right?
The last is a material question, but I wonder how you came to ask the first, as if it could be any question, what the late king will do, if he were restored by power to his crown? for I think it past all doubt, that he will do as he did before, only, in all probability, a great deal worse : and you remember how that was; for arbitrary power and popery are of too great concernment, and have left too frightful an impression behind them, to be so soon forgot ; and this will go a great way towards an answer to your second question, unless you think we are bound to take King James, and a French government, and a French popery with him ; which I shall not easily be persuaded to; and, I believe, there are not many English protestants will.
But to answer your questions distinctly; as to the first, when we see what the late King James has done, what reason have we to expect, that, should he return with power, he would ever do otherwise? is he more obliged now by his protestant subjects, than he was before? can he make fairer promises, than he did before ? is he less zealous for popery, or grown more out of conceit with arbitrary power? or will he be less able to make himself arbitrary, and set up popery, when he returns a conqueror? for I take it for granted, he must conquer first, because King William will not abdicate nor steal away, and the power that conquers will give laws and religion to the conquered. · I know there are two things pretended, as a foundation for better hopes. First, that the late king is now sensible that the English nation will never bear popery, nor arbitrary power, and that be has suffered so much by these attempts already, that he will never venture the like again. Secondly, the great merits of the nonswearing clergy and gentry, which will atone for the church of England, and make bim their sure and fast friend, patron, and defender, especially if those, who have been too forward in complying with the late revolution, shall expiate that crime by an early repentance, and a vigorous assistance to restore him to his throne.
First, as for the first, there are too many answers to be given to it, to hinder it from being the least probable ground of hope; though hope itself is Rei incertæ nomen, so very uncertain, especially when we guess only at the inclinations of princes, that lives, and fortunes, and liberties, and religion, are not to be ventured on it, against former experience.
But, to let that pass," pray consider what the true import of this argument is; for it amounts to this, that all men will learn by experience; that men will not venture on those things a second time, which have proved fatal to them once; that princes will certainly for ever after dislike such counsels and measures, as have already shaken their thrones, and made their crowns fall from their heads:
Now we may flatter ourselves with such hopes as these, which VOL, X