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regiments serving in Holland, whom the Dutch government had engaged to send back to England whenever they should be wanted there.
In the time of Charles the Second was founded the first military hospital in England, at Chelsea. The first national copper coinage was issued from the Mint in this reign, in the year 1672.
JAMES II., 1685. THE KING ENDEAVOURS TO PROMOTE POPERY.— MONMOUTH'S REBELLION.—JUDGE JEFFERIES.—BISHOP KEN.—BARBAROUS EXECUTION OF ALICE LISLE AND ELIZABETH GAUNT.
JAMES the Second was in his fifty-second year when he succeeded his brother. He had been twice married; first to Anne Hyde, the daughter of the Lord Chancellor Clarendon, and after her death to Mary d'Este, sister of the Duke of Modena. He had two children, the daughters of his first wife; Mary, who had been given in marriage to William, Prince of Orange, in 1677, and Anne, who had married Prince George of Denmark.
The new king was a much more industrious man than Charles the Second; he took pains to put the navy in a good condition, and in his younger days he had fought bravely at sea; but his temper was stern even to cruelty, and he never became popular, as his careless, good-tempered brother had been. His coming to the throne had been dreaded, because of his zeal for popery; but his first action as king was of a kind to remove these fears. Half-an-hour after his brother's
death he called his privy councillors together, and declared to them that he meant to maintain the laws, and to defend and uphold the Church of England. His speech was printed, and copies were sent all over the kingdom, to the delight of the people, who believed that James, whatever faults he might have, was strictly a man of his word: but it was too soon seen that he did not consider himself bound by any promise to maintain the laws and religion of his country.
The nation was continually alarmed by some fresh mark of his attachment to the Church of Rome. He was no longer satisfied with attending mass privately, as he had done during his brother's reign; he would have it celebrated openly and with much pomp. In a year or two Romish chapels arose in all parts of the country, monasteries were established in London, and a Jesuit school was built in the Strand, under the patronage of the king. The statesmen who were most careful to maintain the laws of the land were dismissed from their offices, and men whose chief care was to please the king, were appointed in their stead.
The wisest of the English Roman Catholics, and the pope, Innocent the Eleventh, who was a prudent man, begged James to be cautious in what he did, lest in his excessive haste to promote their religion, he should only stir up the people of England to oppose it the more vigorously. But the king was much too zealous in the cause to listen to their advice, and before he had been on the throne six months, his Protestant subjects began to look on his actions with suspicion.
The Duke of Monmouth, who had gone into exile
for his share in the Rye-house plot, now thought it would be a good time to venture back to England, to overturn the government of James and win the crown for himself. On the 11th June, 1685, he landed at Lyme in Dorsetshire, and put forth a manifesto, in which he pretended to be the lawful son of King Charles the Second, called himself the defender of the Protestant religion, and accused James of having poisoned the late king, fired the city of London, and committed other frightful crimes. It was so well known that these accusations were false, that, in most parts of England, Monmouth's manifesto only rendered the people more ready to take up arms for the king. But in the west of England Monmouth had many adherents amongst the peasantry; and the nonconformists, who were very numerous there, took him for their champion. Many, even of their preachers, armed themselves, and followed in the ranks of the rebel army. At the end of a few days, the duke was at the head of five thousand men. But although brave and hardy, they were no match for the king's soldiers, and many of them had no better weapons than their flails, scythes, and pitchforks.
After receiving a warm welcome at Taunton, where he was proclaimed king, Monmouth marched to Bath and summoned it to surrender, but the city was strongly garrisoned for the king, and the rebels dared not attack it. They fell back to Wells, where they injured and defaced the cathedral, and from thence to Bridgewater. There they were brought to a stand by the king's troops, which had followed them, and were now encamped on Sedgemoor, three miles from the town. On that moor took place the last fight,
deserving the name of a battle, which has been fought on English ground. An hour after midnight on the 6th July, Monmouth marched his men to attack the royal camp. They fought with desperate bravery, but the victory could not long be doubtful, and by three o'clock in the morning a thousand of the rebels lay dead on the field, and the remainder were scattered in all directions.
Monmouth had not waited to witness the overthrow of his followers; he fled from them at full speed, in hope to reach the New Forest, and conceal himself there till a ship could be found to convey him to the continent. He changed clothes with a shepherd, and hid himself in the fields for a day or two, but the militia of the southern counties kept watch at every point, and soon discovered him in his hiding-place, looking so gaunt and wretched, that men could hardly believe this was indeed the once handsome and graceful Monmouth. His spirit seemed to be as much changed as his person, for all his former courage disappeared when he saw death nigh at hand. He entreated to see the king, and descended to the most abject entreaties for his life, offering to join the Church of Rome, if only his life might be spared. But there was no pardon for him. His execution was attended by a multitude of people, and proved a most frightful spectacle, owing to the unskilfulness of the executioner, who struck and struck again, many times, before the head of the unfortunate young man could be severed from his body.
In the meantime, the unhappy men who had followed him were reaping in their utmost bitterness the fruits of rebellion. There was a Colonel Kirke,
who was noted for his savage character; and his soldiers, who were commonly called "Kirke's Lambs," were as ferocious as himself. These men did military execution on the rebels during the week following the battle of Sedgemoor. But Kirke was far outdone in cruelty by the atrocious Judge Jefferies, whom the king now sent down to try the rebels: the assizes which this man held in the western counties have ever since been called "The Bloody Assizes." He hanged and quartered some hundreds of the prisoners, sentenced others to be flogged without mercy, and sent a thousand into slavery in the West Indies. Their best friend was that good Bishop Ken, whɩ wrote the beautiful Morning and Evening Hymns, which are so well known. Ken was the Bishop of Bath and Wells. He had received nothing but wrong from the rebels, who hated the office of a bishop; but he returned good for evil, pleaded with their gaolers to show them mercy, and bestowed largely of his income to relieve their necessities. But it was in vain that he interceded for them with the king; James talked with frightful satisfaction of "Jefferies' campaign," and rewarded the cruel judge by making him Lord Chancellor.
One of Jefferies' crimes shocked men more than all the rest. There was an old lady named Alice Lisle, who was kind to every one in distress; two of the rebels fled at night to her house, and implored her to shelter them; they were found under her roof by the soldiers who were in search of them, and for this act of compassion Jefferies caused her to be found guilty of high treason, and condemned her to be burnt alive the same day. Every one, even the warmest friends