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CHA P. XXXVII.
THE duke of York, who fucceeded his A.D. 1685.
brother by the title of king James the fecond, had been bred a papist by his mother, and was ftrongly bigotted to his principles. It is the property of that religion almost ever to contract the sphere of the understanding; and until people are in fome measure difengaged from its prejudices, it is impoffible to lay a juft VOL. IV. claim
claim to extensive views, or confiftency of defign. The intellects of this prince were naturally weak; and the education he had received rendered them ftill more feeble. He therefore conceived the impracticable project of reigning in the arbitrary manner of his predeceffor, and of changing the established religion of his country, at a time when his perfon was hated, and the established religion paffionately loved. The people, though they defpifed the adminiftration of his predeceffor, yet loved the king. They were willing to bear with the faults of one, whofe whole behaviour was a continued instance of affability; but they were by no means willing to grant the fame indulgence to James, as they knew him to be gloomy, proud, bigotted, and cruel.
His reign began with acts of imprudence. All the customs, and the greater part of the excise, that had been voted to the late king for his life only, were levied by James, without a new act for that purpose. He likewise went openly to mass with all the enfigns of his dignity; and even fent one Caryl as his agent to Rome to make fubmiffions to the pope, and to pave the way for the re-admiffion of England
into the bofom of the catholic church. These were but inaufpicious fymptoms in the very
beginning of his reign; but the progress no way fell fhort of the commencement.
He had, long before the commencement of his reign, had an intrigue with one Mrs. Sedley, whom he afterwards created countess of Dorchester; but being now told that as he was to convert his people, the fanctity of his manners ought to correfpond with his profeffions, Mrs. Sedley was difcarded, and he refigned himself up to the advice of the queen, who was as much governed by priests as he. From the fuggeftions of these men, and particularly the Jefuits, all measures were taken. One day, when the Spanish ambaffador ventured to advife his majesty against placing too much confidence in fuch kind of people," Is it not the custom in Spain, faid "James, for the king to confult with his con"feffor?" "Yes, answered the ambassador, "and that is the reafon our affairs fucceed fo "very ill."
But though his actions might ferve to demonstrate his aims, yet his first parliament, which was moftly compofed of zealous Tories were ftrongly biaffed to comply with all the measures of the crown. They voted unanimously that they would settle on the prefent king, during life, all the revenue
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 answer could be extorted from him with regard to religion, for that he was fecretly resolved to alter.
To pave the way for his intended converfion of the kingdom, it was necessary to undeceive them with regard to the late rumour of a popish 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. year. He was convicted on the evidence of above two and twenty persons on the firft, 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 pillored five times every year. Oates, long accustomed to a life of infamy and struggle, fupported himself under every punishment