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shut out all the Jacobites from Parliament; swearing allegiance to King Louis Philippe does not shut out all the Carlists from the Chambers. Nay more, so far may right principle be distorted by faction, that such breach of faith is not only excused but even praised by the party which it aids. The Jacobites, beyond all doubt, applauded their leader, Mr. Shippen — that worthy, publicspirited man, they probably said, who has had the courage to swear against his conscience on purpose to serve the good cause! There were, of course, numerous exceptions; but I am speaking of the general effect. And though we might reasonably infer from theory that men whom we find honourable and high-minded in private life, and in far more trifling transactions, would be scrupulously bound by the solemn and public obligation of an oath, yet experience, I apprehend, would teach the very reverse.
It was not till after these preliminaries, that a Select Committee was appointed to examine Layer and others, in relation to the plot. The Report of this Committee, drawn up by Pulteney, their Chairman, and read to the House on the 1st of March, is a very long and circumstantial document. The evidence which it gives touching Atterbury, though founded on many trifling incidents, such as the dog Harlequin, and dark hints in intercepted letters, was yet, by their combination, as I think, more than sufficient to satisfy any candid minds. The Opposition, however, did not belong to that class; they not only asserted the innocence of Atterbury, and of the rest, but maintained that the plot itself was a chimera, devised by Ministers for the basest purposes of faction. The incident of Harlequin especially was held up to ridicule. Swift, who during the last nine years had prudently kept aloof, at Dublin, from party warfare, could not resist this tempting opportunity to resume it, and poured forth one of his happiest strains of satire on the “horrid conspiracy” discovered by a French dog, who “confessed, as plain as he could bark, then with “his forefoot set his mark !” * To this conspiracy he afterwards alluded in Gulliver's Travels, as “the work
* Swift's Works, vol. X. p. 462. Scott's ed.
manship of persons who desire to raise their own " character of profound politicians; to restore new
vigour to a crazy administration; to stifle or divert “ general discontents; and to fill their coffers with for “ feitures."*
Such is party justice! From the Report of the Committee, or the Evidence appended, it appeared that several other Peers had been named in the depositions : Lords Scarsdale, Strafford, Craven, Gower, Bathurst, Bingley, and Cowper. They all took an early occasion to repel the imputation in the House of Lords. Cowper, especially, said that after having on so many occasions, and in the most difficult times, given undoubted proofs of his zeal for the Protestant Succession, he had just reason to be offended to see his name bandied about in a list of a chimerical club. It was replied by Townshend, that his Lordship's name being part of an examination, there was an absolute necessity for inserting it; but that the Committee were entirely satisfied of his innocence, and that it was only surprising that a peer of so much ability and merit should thence proceed to ridicule as a fiction a wellproved conspiracy, and from one false circumstance infer that no part of it was true. It is certain that the Jacobites had some vague hopes of Lord Cowper. I have seen, in the Stuart Papers, a letter of solicitation to him from Lord Mar, and another apparently addressed by James himself.f But I found nothing whatever to show that he had accepted or even answered these overtures, and it would require strong proofs indeed to outweigh those afforded to the contrary by the whole course and tenour of his life. This is almost the last public transaction in which that eminent man took part: he died the same year, on the 10th of October, of a strangury. On his death-bed, he ordered that his son should never travel. His memory deserves high respect: in him a profound knowledge of law was supported by a ready eloquence, and adorned by elegant accomplishments;
* Swift's Works, vol. xii. p. 244.
† Lord Mar's letter is dated Sept. 17. 1717. The Pretender's is endorsed “ To Mr. C—r," and might be designed for Mr. Cæsar, though the contents render it less likely.
3. Spence's Anecdotes, p. 333.
and, unlike most advocates, the light which had shone at the Bar was not quenched in the closer atmosphere of the Senate. And though it seems that the old by-word was applied to him of “ Cowper-law - to hang a man first, “and then judge him,"* - I believe that it proceeded from party resentment rather than from any real fault.
After the close of the Commons' Committee, one was also appointed by the Lords; but its Report did not add materially to the proofs already known. Layer had been already tried at the King's Bench, and condemned to death ; he was reprieved for examination before these Committees; but not disclosing as much as was hoped, he was executed at Tyburn, and his head affixed at Temple Bar. In a more lenient spirit, Bills of Pains and Penalties were introduced against Plunkett and Kelly, subjecting them to imprisonment during pleasure, and to confiscation of their property. These Bills passed both Houses by large majorities. With respect to the head of these subalterns, the Bishop of Rochester, a Bill was brought in by Yonge (afterwards Sir William) enacting his banishment and deprivation, but without forfeiture of goods; that it should be felony to correspond with him without the King's licence; and that the King should have no power to pardon him without consent of Parliament.
The Bishop, on receiving a copy of this Bill, wrote to the Speaker, requesting to have Sir Constantine Phipps and Mr. Wynne as his counsel, and Mr. Morice as his solicitor, and that they might have free access to him in private. This was granted. He next applied to the Lords, stating that as, by a Standing Order of their House of January 20. 1673, no Lord might appear by counsel before the other House, he was at a loss how to act, and humbly requested their direction. The Lords determined that leave should be given him to be heard by counsel or otherwise, as he might think proper ; but Atterbury, who had probably only taken these steps with the view of raising difficulties, or creating a grievance to complain of, wrote a letter to the Speaker, on the very day he was expected to make his defence, to the effect that he should
* See vol. i. p. 198., or the evidence at Lord Wintoun's trial.
decline giving that House any trouble, and content himself with the opportunity, if the Bill went on, of making his defence before another House, of which he had the honour to be a member.
Accordingly, the Bill having passed the Commons without a division, the Bishop was brought to the Bar of the House of Lords on the 6th of May. The evidence against him being first gone through, some was produced on his side. Amongst his witnesses were Erasmus Lewis, to prove, from his official experience, how easily hand-writing may be counterfeited; and Pope, to depose to the Bishop's domestic habits and literary employments. Pope had but few words to speak, and in those few we are told that he made several blunders. But those on whom Atterbury most relied were three persons who invalidated the confessions of Mr. Neynoe, as taken before his escape and death, and who alleged that Walpole had tampered with that witness. One of them (Mr. Skeene) stated that having asked Neynoe, whether, in real truth, he knew any thing of a plot, Neynoe answered, that he knew of two; one of Mr. Walpole's against some great men, the other of his own, which was only to get eighteen or twenty thousand pounds from Mr. Walpole! It should be observed, however, that of these three witnesses, one at least was of very suspicious character, having been convicted, whipt, and pilloried, at Dublin, for a treasonable libel. Their charges made it necessary for Walpole himself to appear as a witness, and disavow them. On this occasion, the Bishop used all his art to perplex the Minister, and make him contradict himself, but did not succeed; a greater trial of skill,” observes Speaker Onslow, “than scarce ever happened between two such “ combatants; the one fighting for his reputation, the 5 other for his acquittal.” *
* Atterbury always looked upon Walpole as the prime author of his ruin. The epitaph which he wrote for himself in his exile thus concludes :
ROBERTUS ISTE WALPOLE
QUEM NULLA NESCIET POSTERITAS ! See his Correspondence, vol. i. p. 302.
Whatever vindication there may be for Jacobite principles in general, it is shocking to find a clergyman, and a prelate, swear allegiance to the King whom he was plotting to dethrone, and solemnly protest his innocence while labouring under a consciousness of guilt. The Bishop's own defence, which was spoken on the 11th of May *, begins with a touching recital of the hardships he had suffered in captivity. “By which means," he adds, “ what little strength and use of my limbs I had when
committed, in August last, is now so far impaired, that “ I am very unfit to appear before your Lordships on any
occasion, especially when I am to make my defence “ against a Bill of so extraordinary a nature." Atterbury next enters into a masterly review, and, so far as was possible, refutation, of the evidence against him; and proceeds, in a high strain of eloquence, to ask what motives could have driven him into a conspiracy.
6 What “ could tempt me, my Lords, thus to step out of my way? “ Was it ambition, and a desire of climbing into a higher “ station in the Church? There is not a man of my “ Order further removed from views of this kind than I
Was money my aim ? I always despised it, too much, perhaps, considering the occasion I may now have for it. Out of a poor Bishoprick of 5001. a
year, I did in eight years' time lay out 20001. upon the “ house and the appurtenances; and because I knew the “ circumstances in which my predecessor left his family, “ I took not one shilling for dilapidations; and the rest
my income has all been spent as that of a Bishop “ should be, in hospitality and charity. Was I “ influenced by any dislike of the Established Religion,
any secret inclination towards Popery, a church of
greater pomp and power? Malice has ventured even “ thus far to asperse me. I have, my Lords, ever since “I knew what Popery was, disliked it; and the better I “ knew it, the more I opposed it. Thirty-seven
years ago I wrote in defence of Martin Luther, “ And whatever happens to me, I will suffer any thing,
This Defence, as printed in the Parl. History, is mutilated and imperfect. But it is correctly given from an authentic MS. in Atterbury's Correspondence, vol. i. pp. 105–180.