Изображения страниц

she was enabled, by strength not her own, to take leave of her husband with calmness and composure, and having bade the last long farewell, she turned away, and hastened from him to give vent in solitude to those feelings of deep sorrow, which she had so well restrained in his presence. That was a moment more trying to Lord Russell than any other, far more painful than the prospect of his approaching execution;-and when his affectionate wife had departed, to see him again no more in this world, he exclaimed, "Now, the bitterness of death is past."

Other efforts had been made to prevent Lord Russell's execution. The Duke of Monmouth, who, you remember, had made his escape, sent him a message offering to surrender himself, if by so doing he could save his friend. But the reply of Russell was, that it would be no advantage to him for others to die with him. Lord Cavendish also, an intimate friend of the prisoner, generously proposed to contrive his escape by exchanging clothes with him; and would willingly have risked his own life by remaining in his place. But Russell would not for a moment listen to such a proposal, nor allow another to be endangered on his ac count. And so all hope was abandoned, and Russell prepared to die. The hour was now come. Just before the officers arrived to

summon him to execution, Russell took out his watch, and wound it up for the last time. Then laying it down, he solemnly said, "I have now done with time, and must think solely of eternity." On the scaffold, he again declared himself to be innocent of any intention against the king's life; and then, without any change of countenance, he laid his head on the block, and submitted to the axe of the executioner. His death was soon followed by that of Algernon Sidney.

The life and reign of Charles were now drawing to a close. It was thought by some persons, that he was beginning to see the evil of his former mode of government, and was about to dismiss his ministers, and throw himself on the affections of his subjects. But whatever his intentions might have been, death prevented their fulfilment. And a melancholy death indeed was that of the once gay and joyous Charles II. His life had been one of irreligion and dissipation; and when sickness. came to call him away to another world, he was found utterly unprepared. The Bishops who attended his dying bed, and who endeavoured by their exhortations to lead his mind to sacred things, could obtain from him no word expressive either of repentance, or faith, or hope. He would not even declare his adherence to the Protestant faith, in reply

to their anxious enquiries. Though without any actual religion, he had, in the earlier part of his life, professed himself a Protestant ; but now, when dying, he turned to the Romish Church, in the hope, it might be, of finding consolation in the rites and ceremonies which it offered him. He received absolution from a priest of that community; the consecrated wafer was administered; and when the ceremony was ended, he appeared composed, in the prospect of death. And so his soul passed away into another state of being; but such composure was only the fatal calm of a conscience lulled asleep by vain confidence and superstition, not the solid peace which marks the end of the real Christian,-of the "perfect" and "upright man."

James, Duke of York, who succeeded his elder brother Charles on the throne, was, as I before told you, a professed Roman Catholic. He was also as fond of arbitrary power as the preceding sovereigns of the family of Stuart had shown themselves to be. From these two circumstances, it might be supposed that the present reign was not likely to prove a happy one; yet notwithstanding, James was at first received by the people very cordially, for he was considered to be a man of sincerity and honour.

The first thing I shall mention in this reign,

is the invasion which took place under the Duke of Monmouth. You are already acquainted with the name of this nobleman. He was one of those concerned in the conspiracy which ended so fatally to Lord Russell and Algernon Sidney, and you will recollect that he had effected his escape when they were taken prisoners. He was afterwards pardoned by the late king; but having again offended him, was ordered to leave the country. He retired to Holland, and there lived some time under the protection of William, Prince of Orange, who had married Mary the daughter of James II. But as Monmouth was no favourite with the present king, though he had been with Charles II, the Prince of Orange thought it better not to allow him to remain any longer in his territories; and Monmouth accordingly went to Brussels. And now, the thoughts and wishes that had for some time existed in the mind of the Duke, grew stronger than ever, and he determined, with the assistance of the Earl of Argyle, to invade England, in the hope of finding a party there strong enough to support him in his endeavours, and to help him to the throne. He accordingly left the continent, and landed at Poole, in Dorsetshire.

At first, only a few of the lower orders of the people joined the party of the Duke of

[blocks in formation]

Monmouth; but in a short time, a large number united with him, for he was popular in his manners and address, and easily won over the common ranks to his side, though not many of the higher classes of the community were disposed to favour his pretensions. An army was soon sent out to oppose him; troops were called over from Holland, and vigorous measures were adopted for the defeat of the rebels. Meanwhile Monmouth continued his course through Somersetshire, and was actually proclaimed king in several places; and for some days he retained possession of that part of the country. But his plans were generally badly conducted; so that notwithstanding his enterprizing spirit, and his personal bravery, he did not after all effect much by his attempt. After a few weeks, a battle at Sedgemore, near Bridgwater, decided the contest against the rebels. A large number of them were slain, and their unfortunate leader was compelled to quit the field, and seek safety by flight. He rode about twenty miles; his horse was then unable to carry him any further, and he was obliged to proceed on foot. In the hope of concealing himself from his pursuers, he changed clothes with a peasant, and wandered about for some days thus disguised. But Monmouth's pursuers soon discovered the peasant dressed in the Duke's clothes, and

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »