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DEATH OF GEORGE II.
BY DR. GOLDSMITH.
IN FOUR VOLUMES.
THE SEVENTH EDITION.
Printed by N. Kelly,
AND WILLIAM PORTER.
A. D. brother by the title of king James the
1685. 'second, had been bred a papist by his mother, and was srictly bigoted to his principles. It is the property of that religion almost ever to contract the sphere of the understanding; and until people are in some measure disengaged from its prejudices, it is impossible to lay a just claim to extensive views, or consistency of design. The intellects of this prince were naturally weak; and the education he had received rendered them still more feeble. He therefore conceived the impracticable project of reigning in the arbitrary manner of his predecessor, and of clianging the established religion of his country, at a time when his person was hated, and the established religion passionately loved. The people, though they despised the administration of his predecessor, yet loved the king. They were willing to bear with the faults of one, whose whole behaviour was a continued instance of affability; but A 2
they were by no means willing to grant the same indulgence to James, as they knew him to be gloomy, proud, bigoted, 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 ensigns of his dignity; and even sent one Caryl as his agent to Rome to make submissions to the pope, and to pave the way for the readniission of England into the bosom of the catholic church. These were but inauspicious symptoms in the very beginning of his reign; but the progress no way fell short 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 sanctity of his manners ought to correspond with his professions, Nirs. Sedley was discarded, and he resigtied himself up to the advice of the queen, who was as much governed by priests as he. From the suggestions of these men and particularly the jesuits, all measures were taken. One day, when the Spanish ambassador ventured to advise his majesty against placing too much confidence in such kind of people, so it not the custom in Spain (said James) for the
king to consult with his confessor ?” “ Yes," answered the ambassador, "and that is the rea
son our affairs succeed so very ill."
But though his actions might serve to demonstrate his aims, yet his parliament, which was mostly composed of zealous Tories, were strongly biassed to comply with all the measures of the crown. They voted unanimously that they would settle on the present king, during life, all the reve
nue enjoyed by the late king, until the time of his decease. For this favour, James assured them of his resolution to secure them in the full enjoyment of their laws; but no answer could be extorted from him with regard to religion, for that he was secretly resolved to alter.
To pave the way for his intended conversion 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 swearing that he was présent at a consultation of Jesuits in London the twenty-fourth of April, 1679; and another, for swearing that father Ireland was in London on the beginning of September of the same year. He was convicted on the evidence of above two and twenty persons on the first, and of twenty-seven on the latter indictment. His sentence 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 struggle,supported himself under eve ry punishment that justice could inflict. He avowed his innocence, called heaven to witness to his veracity; and he knew that there was a large party that were willing to take his word. Though the whipping was so cruel, that it appeared evidently the intention of the court to put him to death by that dreadful punishment, yet Oates survived it all, and lived to king William's reign, when he had a pension of four hundred pounds a year settled on him. Thus Oates remains as a stain upon the times in every part of his conduct. It is a stain upon them that he was first believed; it is a stain upon them that he was caressed, that he was