« ForrigeFortsæt »
monarchy, and even of the aristocracy; and
projected an entire equality of rank and order, in “ a republic quite free and independent.”
CONDITION OF THE ENGLISH CATHOLICS FROM
THE MEETING OF THE LONG PARLIAMENT TILL THE END OF THE REIGN OF CHARLES
THE political maneuvres, which persuaded the multitude to believe that the sovereign was a favourer of popery, and which left him, as he too readily supposed, no means of repelling the charge, except that of causing the laws against them to be executed with new vigour, may, as we have already had occasion to observe, be dated from the beginning of the reign of James the first. Frequent resort to this unjustifiable but effective measure was had, during the contests between Charles the first and his parliament: the religion of the queen was too often used as a pretext to give the insinuation credit and currency.
Stories, the most absurd and ridiculous, were, at the same time, propagated, to inflame the multitude against the catholics, by rendering them objects both of hatred and alarm. These were often of such a nature, that even the silliest men would not, in times when the public mind was in quiet, have ventured to relate them ; but such was the state of popular feeling at the time, of which we are now speaking, that such stories were frequently circulated, and generally credited. Even the wisest believed, or affected to believe them, and persons of the highest authority were not wanting to give them the sanction of their authority. Reports were spread of foreign fleets threatening our coasts ; of an army of papists training to the use of arms under ground; of a plot for blowing up the river Thames, and drowning the faithful protestant city * But, what are we to say of the celebrated Hampden, who introduced into the house of commons a taylor, of Cripplegate, who averred, that walking in the fields near a bank, he overheard, from the opposite side of it, the particulars of a plot, concerted by the priests and other papists, for a hundred and eight 'assassins to murder a hundred and eight leading members of parliament, at the rate of 101.for every lord, and of 40's. for every commoner, so murdered? or of the house of commons, who, on this deposition, proceeded to the most violent measures against the catholics; and, under pretence of greater security, ordered the train-bands, and militia of the kingdom, to be in readiness, and to be placed under the command of the earl of Essex t? or of the house of lords, who adopted the taylor's report, and ordered it to be printed and circulated throughout the kingdom?
* See the “ Examination of Neale’s History of the Puritans, by Grey," vol. ii. p. 260.
+ Nalson's Collections, vol. ii. p. 646; Journ. 16th Nov. 1642. Dugdale, p. 77. These reports are properly noticed by Hume, ch. lv.
The consequence was such, as might have been expected : Proclamation after proclamation was issued. In the petition, agreed to by both houses of parliament in June 1642, and presented to the king at York, as the foundation for a final end of all differences between them, the sixth article is, “that “ the laws in force against jesuits, priests, and
popish recusants, be strictly put in execution, “ without any toleration or dispensation to the “ contrary; and that some more effectual course
may be enacted, by authority of parliament, to “ disable them from making any disturbance in
the state, or eluding the law by trusts, or other5 wise.
Twenty-three priests suffered death. Several other priests were condemned; but, from some circumstance or other, not executed. Mr. Thomas Goodman, one of these, was reprieved. This alarmed the lords and commons : they met in conference; deprecated his reprieve; and called for his execution. His majesty sent a message to them, that, “having informed himself of the names and “ nature of the crimes of the persons convicted, he “ found, that John Goodman was condemned for “ being in the order of a priest merely; and was
acquitted of every other charge; his majesty, “ therefore, was tender of matters of blood, in cases “ of this nature, in which queen Elizabeth and
king James had been often merciful; but, to “ secure to his people, that this man should do no co
more hurt, he was willing that he should be si imprisoned, or banished, as their lordships should
“ devise;" and assured them, that “ he would “ take such fit course for the expulsion of other
priests and jesuits, as he should be advised by “ their lordships."
This did not satisfy the two houses. They immediately presented a remonstrance to the throne, - praying that Goodman might suffer, and that the laws enacted should be executed against all other priests in the kingdom. They waited on the king with this prayer. The humane monarch repeated his observation, that, “ the only crime “ objected to Mr. Goodman, was, his being a
priest; and that both queen Elizabeth and king “ James avowed, that, in their reigns, no one had “ been executed for religion only;" and returned the case to them for further consideration.
The next day, the king communicated to the house the following petition, which he had received from the condemned priest. “ To the king's most excellent majesty : “ The humble petition of John Goodman,
66. condemned :
Humbly showeth, “ That, whereas your petitioner has been in“ formed of a great discontent of many of your
majesty's subjects, at the gracious mercy your majesty was pleased to show unto your petitioner, by suspending the execution of the sentence of
death, pronounced against him for being a “ Romish priest,—this is humbly to solicit your
majesty, rather to remit your petitioner to their mercy, than to let him live the subject of so si much discontent in your people against your “ majesty
“ This is, most sacred majesty, the petition of “ him, who should deem his blood well shed, to “cement the breach between your majesty and your subjects upon this occasion.”
The magnanimity of this petition greatly moved the king; and seemed to soften the parliament into some sentiments of humanity. Mr. Goodman was not executed. After remaining in prison five years, he died, on the felons' side, in Newgate.
Two years after this event, seven other priests were condemned for their sacerdotal character, but reprieved. Both houses of parliament joined in a petition, that his majesty would take off the reprieve,—and order them for execution. The king replied from York,—" concerning the condemned “ priests, --it is true that they were reprieved by “our warrant; being informed that they were, by
some restraint, disabled to take the benefit of our “ proclamation. Since that, we have issued out “ another warrant for the execution of the laws “ against papists, and have most solemnly pro
tested, upon the word of a king, never to pardon
any priest without your consent, who shall be “ found guilty by law, desiring to banish them;
having herewith sent our warrant for that purpose, if, upon second thoughts, you do not dis
approve thereof; but, if you think the execution “ of these persons so very necessary to the great “ and pious work of reformation, we refer it wholly