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nue enjoyed by the late king, until the time of his decease. For this favour, James affured them of his refolution to fecure them in the full enjoyment of their laws; but no anfwer could be extorted from him with regard to religion, for that he was fecretly refolved to alter.
To pave the way for his intended converfion of the kingdom, it was neceffary to undeceive them with regard to the late rumour of a popifh plot; and Oates, the contriver, was the first object of royal indignation. He was tried for perjury on two indictments. One, for fwearing that he was prefent at a confultation of Jefuits in London the twenty-fourth of April 1679; and another, for fwearing that father Ireland was in London on the beginning of September of the fame year. He was convicted on the evidence of above two and twenty perfons on the first, and of twenty feven on the latter indictment. His fentence was to pay a fine of a thousand marks on each indictment, to be whipped on two different days from Aldgate to Newgate, and from Newgate to Tyburn. To be imprisoned during life, and to be pilloried five times every year. Oates, long accustomed to a life of infamy and ftruggle, fupported himself under every punishment that juftice could inflict. He avowed his innocence, called heaven to witnefs to his veracity; and he knew that there was a large party that were willing to take his word. Though the whipping was fo cruel, that it appeared evidently the intention of the court to put him to death by that dreadful punishment, yet Oates furvived it all, and lived to king William's reign, when he had a penfion of four hundred pounds a year fettled upon him. Thus Oates remains as a ftain upon the times in every part of his conduct. It is a stain upon them that he was firft believed, it is a ftain upon them that he was careffed, that he was tyranA. 3.
nically punished, and that he was afterwards rewarded.
Monmouth, who had been, fince his laft confpiracy, pardoned, but ordered to depart the king-. dom, had retired to Holland. Being difmiffed from thence by the prince of Orange upon James's acceffion, he went to Bruffels, where finding himfelf ftill purfued by the king's feverity, he refolved to retaliate, and make an attempt upon the kingdom. He had ever been the darling of the people, and fome averred that Charles had married his mother, and owned Monmouth's legitimacy at his death. The duke of Argyle feconded his views in Scotland, and they formed the fcheme of a double infurrection; fo that while Monmouth would attempt to make a rising in the Weft, Argyle was alfo to try his endeavours in the North..
Argyle was the first who landed in Scotland,. where he published his manifeftoes, put himself at the head of two thousand five hundred men, and ftrove to influence the people in his cause.. A. D. But a formidable body of the king's forces1685. coming against him, his army fell away, and he himself, after being wounded in attempting to escape, was taken prifoner by a peasant, who found him ftanding up to his neck in a pool of waHe was from thence carried to Edinburgh, where, after enduring many indignities with a gallant fpirit, he was publicly executed.
The fate of Argyle was but a bad encouragement to the unfortunate Monmouth, who was by this time landed in Dorfetfhire, with fcarce an hundred followers. However his name was fo popular, and fo great was the hatred of the people both for the person and religion of James, that in four days he had affembled a body of above two thousand men. They were indeed all of them the lowest of the people, and his declarations were
fuited entirely to their prejudices. He called the king the duke of York, and denominated him at traitor, a tyrant, a murderer, and a popish ufurper He imputed to him the fire of London, the murder of Godfrey and Effex, and even the poifoning the late king.
The parliament was no fooner informed of Monmouth's landing, than they prefented an addrefs to the king, affuring him of their loyalty, zeal, and affiftance. The duke of Albemarle, raifing a body of four thousand militia, advanced, in order to block him up in Lyme; but finding his foldiers difaffected to the king, he foon after retreated with precipitation.
In the mean time the duke advanced to Taunton, where he was reinforced by confiderable numbers. Twenty young maids of fome rank prefented Monmouth with a pair of colours, their handy work, together with a copy of the bible. There he affumed the title of king, and was proclaimed with great folemnity. His numbers had now encreased to fix thousand men; and he was obliged every day, for want of arms, to difmifs numbers who crowded to his ftandard. He entered Bridgewater, Wells, and Frome, and was proclaimed in all thofe places; but he loft the hour of action, in receiving and claiming the fe empty honours.
The king was not a little alarmed at his invafi on; but still more at the fuccefs of an undertaking, that at first appeared defperate. Six regiments of British troops were called over from Holland, and a. body of regulars to the number of three thou-fand men, were fent under the command of the earl of Feverfham and Churchill, to check the progrefs of the rebels. They took poft at Sedgemore, a village in the neighbourhood of Bridgewater, and were joined by the militia of the counA 4. try
try in confiderable numbers. It was there that Monmouth refolved, by a defperate effort, to lofe his life or gain the kingdom. The negligent difpofition made by Feverlham invited him to the attack; and his faithful followers fhewed what courage and principle could do against difcipline and fuperior numbers. They drove the royal infantry from their ground, and were upon the point of gaining the victory, when the mifconduct of Monmouth and the cowardice of lord Gray, who commanded the horfe, brought all to ruin. This nobleman fled at the firft onfet; and the rebels being charged in flank by the victorious army, gave way after a three hours conteft. About three hundred were killed in the engagement, and a thousand in the purfuit; and thus ended an enterprize, rafhly begun, and more feebly conducted.
Monmouth fled from the field of battle above twenty miles, till his horfe funk under him. He then alighted and exchanging cloaths with a fhepherd, Ad on foot, attended by a German count, who had accompanied him from Holland. Being quite exhaufted with hunger and fatigue, they both lay down in a field, and covered them felves with fern. The fhepherd being found in Monmouth's cloaths by the purfuers, encreased the diligence of the fearch; and, by the means of blood hounds, he was detected in his miferable fituation, with raw peafe in his pocket, which he had gathered in the fields to fuftain life. He burst into tears when feized by his enemies; and petitioned, with the moft abject fubmiffion, for life. He wrote the moft fubmiffive letters to the king; and that monarch, willing to feaft his eyes with the miferies of a fallen enemy, gave him an audience. At this interview the duke fell upon his knees, and begged his life in the most abject terms. He even figned a paper, offered him by the king, declaring
his own illegitimacy; and then the ftern tyrant af. fured him, that his crime was of fuch a nature, as could not be pardoned. The duke perceiving that he had nothing to hope from the clemency of his uncle, recollected his fpirits, rose up, and retired with an air of difdain. He was followed to the fcaffold, with great compaffion from the populace. He warned the executioner not to fall into the fame error which he had committed in beheading Ruffel, where it had been neceffary to redouble the blow. But this only encreased the severity of his punishment, the man was feized with an univerfal trepidation; and he ftruck a feeble blow, upon which the duke raised his head from the block, as if to reproach him; he gently laid down his head a fecond time, and the executioner ftruck him again and again to no purpofe. He at laft threw the ax down; but the fheriff compelled him to resume the attempt, and at two blows more the head was fevered from the body. Such was the end of James duke of Monmouth, the darling of the English people. He was brave, fincere, and good natured, open to flattery, and by that feduced. into an enterprize which exceeded his capacity.
But it were well for the infurgents, and fortunate for the king, if the blood that was now fhed had been thought a fufficient expiation for the late offence. The victorious army behaved with the moft favage cruelty to the prifoners taken after the battle. Feverfham immediately after, the victory hanged up above twenty prifoners, and was proceeding in his executions, when the bishop of Bath and Wells warned him that these unhappy men were now by law entitled to trial, and that their execution would be deemed a real murder. Nineteen were put to death in the fame manner at Bridgewater, by colonel Kirke, a man of a favage and bloody difpofition. This vile fellow, practifed