Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

tyrnnically punished, and that he was afterwards rewarded.

Monmouth, who had been, since his last conspiracy,pardoned, but ordered to depart the kingdom, had retired to Holland. Being dismissed from thence by the prince of Orange uponJames's accession, he went to Brussels, where finding himself still pursued by the king's severity, he resolved to retaliate, and make an attempt upon the kingdom. He had ever been the darling of the people, and some averred that Charles had married his mother, and owned Monmouth's legiti macy at his death. The duke of Argyle seconded his views in Scotland, and they formed the scheme of a double insurrection; so that while Monmouth would attempt to make a rising in the West, Argyle was also to try his endeavours in the North.

Argyle was the first who landed in Scotland, where he published his manifestoes, put himself at the head of two thousand five hundred men, and strove to influence the people in his cause. A. D. But a formidable body of the king's forces

1685. coming against him, his army fell away,

and he himself, after being wounded in attempting to escape, was taken prisoner by a peasant, who found him standing up to his neck in a pool of water. He was from thence carried to Edinburgh, where, after euduring many indignities with a gallant spirit, he was publicly executed.

The fate of Argyle was but a bad encouragement to the unfortunate Monmouth, who was by this time landed in Dorsetshire, with scarce an hundred followers. However his name was so popular, and so great was the hatred of the people both for the person and religion of James, that in four days he had assembled a body of above two thousand men. They were indeed all of them the lowest of the people, and his decla

rations

[ocr errors]

rations were suited entirely to their prejudices. He called the king the Duke of York, and denominated him a traitor, a tyrant, a murderer, and a popish usurper. He imputed to him the

fire of London, the murder of Godfrey and Essex, and even the poisoning of the late king.

The parliament was no sooner informed of Monmouth's landing, than they presented an address to the king, assuring him of their loyalty, zeal, and assistance. The duke of Albemarle, raising a body of four thousand militia, advanced in order to block him up in Lyme; but finding his soldiers disaffected to the king, he soon after retreated with precipitation.

In the mean time the duke advanced to Taunton, where he was reinforced by considerable numbers. Twenty young maids of some rank presented Monmouth with a pair of colours, their handy work, together with a copy of the bible. There he assumed the title of king, and was proclained with great solemnity. His numbers had now encreased to six thousand men; and he was obliged every day, for want of arms, to dismiss numbers who crowded to his standard. He entered Bridgewater, Wells, and Frome, and was proclaimed in all those places; but he lost the hour of action, in receiving and claiming these empty honours.

[ocr errors]

The king was not a little alarmed at his invasion; but still more at the success of an undertaking, that at first appeared desperate. Six regiments of British troops were called over from Holland, and a body of regulars to the number of three thousand men, were sent under the command of the earl of Feversham and Churchill, to check the progress of the rebels. They took post at Sedgemore, a village in the neighbourhood of Bridgewater, and were joined by the militia of the coun

A 4

try

This no

try in considerable numbers. It was there that Nionmouth resolved, by a desperate effort, to lose his life or gain the kingdom. The negligent disposition made by Feversham invited him to he attack; and his faithful followers shewed what courage and principle could do against discipline and superior numbers. They drove the royal infantry from their ground, and were upon the point of gaining the victory, when the misconduct of Monmouth and he cowardice of lord Gray, who commanded the horse, brought all to ruin. bleman Aed at the first onset; and the rebels being charged in flank by the victorious army, gave. way after a three hours contest. About three hundred were killed in the engagement, and a thousand in the pursuit; and thus ented an enterprize, rashly begun, and more feebly conducted.

Monmouth fled from the field of battle above twenty miles, till his horse sunk under him. He then alighted, and exchanging clothes with a shepherd, fled on foot, attended by a Gerinan count, who had accompanied him from Holland. Being quite exhausted with hunger and fatigue, they both lay down in a field, and covered themselves with fern. The shepherd being found in Moumoth's clothes by the pursuers, encreased the diligence of the search ; and, by the means of blood hounds, he was detected in his miserablesi. tuation, with raw pease in his pocket, which he had gatheredin the fields to sustain life. He burst into tears when seized by his enemies; and petitioned, with the most abject submission, for life. He wrote the most submissire letters to the king; and that monarch, willing to feast his eyes with the miseries 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 signed a paper, offered bim by the king,

declaring

[ocr errors]

declaring his own illegitimacy; and then the stern tyrant assured him, that his crime was of such a nature, as could not be pardoned. The duke perceiving that he had nothing to hope from the clemency of his uncle, recollected his spirits, rose up, and retired with an air of disdain. He was followed to the scaffold, with great compassion from the populace. He warned the executioner not to fall into the same error which he had committed in beheading Russel, where it had been necessary to redouble the blow. But this only encreased the severity of his punishment, the man was seized with an universal trepidation; and he struck 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 second time, and the executioner struck him again and again to no purpose. He at last threw the ax down; but the sheriff compelled him to resume the attempt, and at two blows more the head was severed from the the body. Such was the end of James duke of Monmouth, the darling of the English people. He was, brave, sincere, and good natured, open to flattery, and by that seduced into an enterprise which exceeded his capacity.

But it were well for the insurgents, and fortunate for the king, if the blood that was now shed had been thought a sufficient expiation for the late offence. The victorious army behaved with the most savage cruelty to the prisoners taken after the battle. Fevers ham immediately after the victory hanged up above twenty prisoners, 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 same manner at Bridgewater, by colonel Kirke, a man of a savage and bloody disposition. This vile fellow, practised

A 5

in

in the arts of slaughter at Tangiers, where he served in garrison, took a pleasure in committing instances of wanton barbarity. He ordered a certain number to be put to death, while he and his company were drinking the king's health. Observing their feet to shake in the agonies of death he cried that they should have music to their dancing, and ordered the trumpets to sound. He ravaged the whole country, without making any distinction between friend or foe. His own regiment, for their peculiar barbarity, went by the name of Kirke's Lambs. A story is told of his offering a young woman the life of her brother, in case she consented to his desires, which, when she had done, he shewed her her brother hanging out of the window. But this is told of several others, who have been notorious for cruelty, and may be the tale of malignity.

But the military severities of the commanders were still inferior to the legal slaughters committed by judge Jefferies who was sent down to try the delinquents. The natural brutality of this man's temper was inflamed by continual intoxication. He told the prisoners, that if they would save him the trouble of trying them they might expect some favour, otherwise he would execute the law upon them with the utmost severity. Many poor wretches were thus allured into a confesson, and found that it only hastened their destruction. No less than eighty were executed at Dorchester and on the whole, at Eveter, Taunton, and Wells, two hundred and fifty-one are computed to have fallen by the hand of justice. Women were not exempted from the general severity, but suffered for harbouring their nearest kindred. Lady Lisle, though the widow of a regicide, was herself a loyalist. She was apprehended for having sheltered in her house two fugitives from the battle of

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »