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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 misin. formed, 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 horrid a villainy 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 now 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 news ;' 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 publick, 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 even
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 dion vine favour has snatehed 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 examined 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 resembling 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 Freneh in the mouth of the channel, and only kept back by contrary winds; a terrible invasion bourly 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 mė, 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 beard!
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.
last you seem much concerned about the French invasion and desirous to know what I think may probably be ex
• Vide the 26let Article in the Catalogue of Pamphlets in the Harleian Library.
pected from the late king, should he 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 are bitrary 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 ab. dicate nor steal
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 he 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 him 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
may, upon some account, be called reasonable hopes, because there is great reason it should be so; but yet they so often fail, that there is no reason to rely upon them. The repentance of dying sinners, and of undone prodigals, who return to their old sins again, if they recover their health, or find new treasures to waste, confutes such expectations. Sufferings rarely cure a vehement love and fond passion for any thing, which is the case of old habitual sinners; and no man can be fonder of any vice, than some princes are of unlimited and arbitrary power.
And, when this is joined with a resolved and inflexible temper, which scorns to yield, and had rather be undone a thousand times, than own, retract, or amend a fault: such misfortunes do but whet revenge, and make them swell, as a river does when its current is stopped, which flows with a more rapid and foaming stream, when it has once forced its way.
Especially when superstition is the prevailing ingredient, which fires the spirits, and raises imaginary scenes of glory out of the Joss of crowns and kingdoms: and what will such a prince, if he ever recover his throne and power, forfeit the glory of losing his kingdoms again, by deserting the cause for which he lost them before? No man can certainly tell, how superstition will act, nor how it will reason ; especially, when the consciences of princes are under such directors, as will venture their crowns for them over and over, to carry on their own designs, and know how to expound providence to flatter superstition. And then the recovery of his throne niay be made a better argument, and a stronger obligation to revive and prosecute his old designs, than the fear of losing it again can be to make him desist.
And, to make this yet more demonstrative, with reference to the late king, we ought to consider, that this is not the first trial he has had, and that this consideration has done him no good.
He saw before what his father King Charles the First suffered, only for some attempts towards arbitrary power, and for mere jealousies and suspicions of his favouring popery. He lost his kingdoms and his life, and his sons suffered a long and hard exile. Charles the second, indeed, took warning by this, and, though possibly he might be big with the same designs, yet would he not venture too far, nor discover himself too openly, for fear of travelling again, as he used to speak. But King James had not patience to conceal his inclinations, till he came to the crown; and that had like to have cost him his crown before he had it; and, yet, this was not sufficient to caution him against those violent methods he afterwards used to advance popery, which were so seasonably defeated by the happy arrival of our present sovereign, whom God long preserve: and those who are so desirous to try him again in England, as they have lately done in Ireland, to their full satisfac. tion, if they could try only for themselves, should have my free consent to make the experiment.
Have not the poor Irish protestants made it to their cost, even since this very revolution, from whence, and from the wisdom be