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the ministers and even of the Crown, might easily, in a divided nation and in the crisis of a disputed succession, determine the whole course of affairs. Had the request been made soon after the battle of Blenheim, it is not impossible that it might have been conceded, but the time for making it had passed. The Chancellor Cowper, on being apprised of it, coldly answered that it was wholly unprecedented. The Queen, to the great indignation of Marlborough, absolutely refused it; when the transaction was divulged, the nation, which had at least learnt from Cromwell a deep and lasting hatred of military despotism, placed upon it the worst construction, and it contributed much to the unpopularity of the Whigs.

Besides this cause of division and discontent, some murmurs arose at the reckless prolongation of a war which produced much distress among the poor; but on the whole they were not very serious, and the approaching downfall of the ministers was mainly due to the alienation of the Queen and to the opposition of the Church. For some time the controversy about the doctrine of non-resistance had been raging with increased intensity, and there were many evident signs that the Church opposition, which had been thrown into the shade by the glories of Blenheim, was acquiring new strength. A sermon preached by Hoadly against the doctrine of passive obedience, in 1705, was solemnly condemned by the Lower House of Convocation. Blackhall, one of the bishops appointed by Anne without consultation with her ministers, being called upon to preach before the Queen shortly after his consecration, availed himself of the occasion to assert the Tory doctrine of non-resistance in its extreme form; and the sermon, which was in fact a condemnation of the Revolution, was published without any sign of royal disapprobation. The Scotch Union was violently denounced as introducing Presbyterians into Parliament, recognising by a great national act the non-Episcopal Establishment of Scotland, and providing a powerful ally for the enemies of the Church. The Act for naturalising foreign Protestants was even more unpopular. It was certain to swell the ranks of the

Nonconformists. It excited all the English animosity against foreigners; and soon after it had passed, more than 6,000 Germans, from the Palatinate, came over in a state of extreme destitution at a time when a period of great distress was already taxing to the utmost the benevolence of the rich. Nearly at the same time too, the Church acquired a considerable accession, not indeed in numbers, but in moral force, by the partial extinction of the non-juror schism. Ken had resigned his pretensions to his bishopric. Lloyd, the deposed bishop of Norwich, died on January 1, 1709-10, and there remained no other of the prelates who had been deprived by William. One section of the non-jurors, it is true, took measures to perpetuate the division, but Dodwell, Nelson, Brokesby, and some others reverted to the Church. The language of the clergy became continually more aggressive. The pulpits rang with declamations about the danger of the Church, with invectives against Nonconformists, with coyert attacks upon the ministers. The train was fully laid; the impeachment of Sacheverell produced the explosion that shattered the Whig ministry of Anne.

The circumstances of that singular outbreak of Church fanaticism are well known. The hero of the drama was fellow of Magdalen College and rector of St. Saviour, Southwark; and, though himself the grandson of a dissenting minister who soon after the Restoration had suffered an imprisonment of three years for officiating in a conventicle,' he had been for some time a conspicuous preacher and an occasional writer3 in the High Church ranks. It was alleged by his opponents, and, after the excitement of the contest had passed, it was hardly denied by his friends, that he was an insolent and hot-headed man, without learning, literary ability, or real piety; distin

'See Lathbury's Hist. of the Nonjurors and Hist. of Convocation. 2 Tindal.

He had published A Fast-day Sermon, preached at Oxford in 1702, which was one of the works that

produced Defoe's Shortest Way with the Dissenters, an assize sermon at Oxford, preached in 1704, and two pamphlets called Political Union, and The Rights of the Church of England.

guished chiefly by his striking person and good delivery, and by his scurrilous abuse of Dissenters and Whigs. Of the two sermons that came under the consideration of Parliament, the first was preached at the Assizes of Derby, and was published with a dedication to the high sheriff and jury, deploring the dangers that menaced the Church and the betrayal of its principles, interests, and constitution. The second and more famous one, 'On the perils from false brethren,' was preached on November 5, 1709, in St. Paul's Cathedral, before the Lord Mayor and aldermen of London, and was dedicated to the former. In this sermon the preacher maintained at great length the doctrine of absolute non-resistance, inveighed against the principle of toleration, described the Church as in a condition of imminent danger, insinuated very intelligibly that the ministers were amongst the false brethren, reflected severely upon Burnet and Hoadly, and glanced at Godolphin himself under the nickname of Volpone. Referring to the vote of Parliament declaring that the Church was in no danger, he rather happily reminded his hearers that a similar vote had been carried, about the person of Charles I., at the very time when his future murderers were conspiring his death. The sermon being delivered on a very conspicuous occasion, and conveying with great violence the sentiments of a large party in the State, had an immense circulation and effect; and Mr. Dolben, the son of the last Archbishop of York, brought both it and the sermon at Derby under the notice of the House of Commons. The House voted both sermons scurrilous and seditious libels, and summoned Sacheverell to the bar. He at once acknowledged the authorship, and stated that the Lord Mayor, who was a Tory member, had encouraged him to publish the sermon at St. Paul's. This assertion would probably have led to the expulsion of the Lord Mayor had he not strenuously contradicted it. The House ultimately resolved to proceed against Sacheverell in the most formal and solemn

A character in the Fox' of Ben Jonson.

manner in its power-by an impeachment at the bar of the House of Lords. It was desired to obtain a condemnation of the doctrine of the sermon, invested with every circumstance of dignity that could strike the imagination, and, if possible, prevent a revival of the agitation. The House, at the same time, took great pains that there should be no doubt of the main issue that was raised. The ablest and most conspicuous assailant of the doctrine of passive obedience was Hoadly, who had recently been answering the sermon of Bishop Blackhall on this very question. The House of Commons accordingly, when condemning Sacheverell, passed a resolution warmly eulogising the writings of Hoadly in defence of the Revolution, and petitioning the Queen to bestow upon him some piece of Church preferment. It refused to admit Sacheverell to bail; but this favour was soon afterwards granted him by the House of Lords.

The extreme impolicy of the course which was adopted was abundantly shown by the event. Had Sacheverell been merely prosecuted in the ordinary law courts, or had the House by its own authority burnt the sermon and imprisoned the preacher for the remainder of the Session, the matter would probably have excited but little commotion. Somers, and Eyre the Solicitor-General, from the beginning opposed the impeachment, and there is reason to believe that both Marlborough and Walpole joined in the same view. Godolphin, however, actuated, it was said,' by personal resentment, urged it on, and it was voted by a large majority, and was at once accepted by the Church as a challenge. The necessary delay was sufficient for the organisation of a tremendous opposition, and an outburst of enthusiasm was manifested such as England had never seen since the day of the acquittal of the bishops. The ablest Tory counsel undertook the defence of Sacheverell. Atterbury, the most brilliant of the High Church controversialists, took a leading part in composing the speech which he delivered. The

'See the Hist. of the Last Four Years of Queen Anne.

Vice-Chancellor of Oxford was one of his bail. He appeared in court ostentatiously surrounded by several of the chaplains of the Queen. Prayers were offered in all the leading churches, and even in the royal chapel, for Dr. Sacheverell under persecution,' and the pulpits all over England were enlisted in his cause. When the Queen went to listen to the proceedings, her sedan chair was surrounded by crowds crying, 'God bless your Majesty! We hope your Majesty is for High Church and Sacheverell.' When Sacheverell himself drove to Westminster Hall, the people thronged in multitudes to kiss his hand, and every head was uncovered as he passed. The meeting-houses of the Dissenters were everywhere wrecked, and that of Burgess, one of their most conspicuous preachers in London, was burnt. The houses of the Lord Chancellor, of Wharton, of Burnet, Hoadly, and Dolben, were threatened. All who were believed to be hostile to Sacheverell, all who refused to join in the cry of 'High Church and Sacheverell,' were insulted in the streets, and the condition of London became so serious that large bodies of troops were called out. The excitement propagated itself to every part of the country and to every class of society, and the Church agitations under Anne are among the first political movements in England in which women are recorded to have taken a very active part.1

The prosecution, on the other hand, was conducted with much

'See Swift's Examiner, No. 31, Defoe has given a characteristic description of the female enthusiasm for Sacheverell. Matters of government and affairs of state are become the province of the ladies. . . they have hardly leisure to live, little time to eat and sleep, and none at all to say their prayers... Little Miss has Dr. Sacheverell's picture put into her prayer-book, that God and the Doctor may take her up in the morning before breakfast; and all manner of discourse among the women runs now upon war and government . . . This new invasion of the politician's province is an eminent demonstration

...

of the sympathetic influence of the clergy upon the sex and the near affinity between the gown and the petticoat; since all the errors of our present and past administrators, and all breaches made upon our politics could never embark the ladies till you fall upon the clergy. But as soon as you pinch the parson he holds out his hand to the ladies for assistance, and they appear as one woman in his defence.' Wilson's Life of Defoe, iii. 124-126. See too the Spectator, No. lvii. Clarendon, however, notices a similar outburst of feminine zeal in the semi-religious Politics of the Rebellion.

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