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skill. The charges were that Sacheverell had described the necessary means to bring about the Revolution as odious and unjustifiable, had denounced the Toleration Act, and, in defiance of the. votes of both Houses of Parliament, had represented the Church as in great danger, and the administration, both in ecclesiastical and civil affairs, as tending to the destruction of the constitution. Whatever may be thought of the conduct of a party which treated such expressions of opinion as criminal offences, it must be admitted that the speeches of the managers of the impeachment were distinguished both for moderation and ability, and it is remarkable that Burke, long afterwards, when separating from the Whig party at the French Revolution, appealed to them as the ablest and most authentic expression of the Whig policy of the statesmen of 1688.' It is impossible, indeed, to read those of Jekyll, Walpole, Lechmere, Parker, Eyre, and the other managers, without being struck with the guarded caution they display in asserting the rights of nations to resist their sovereigns. They carefully restrict it to cases in which the original contract was broken, in which the sovereign has violated the laws, endeavoured to subvert the scheme of government determined on in concert by King, Lords, and Commons. It is on these grounds, and on these alone, that they justify the Revolution. The notion that the son of James II. was a supposititious child, which had borne a greater part in the struggle than Whig writers like to admit, was completely abandoned. The managers rested their case solely on the ground that a sovereign may be legitimately resisted who has infringed the constitutional compact by which he was bound; but at the same time they acknowledge fully that a grave and distinct violation of a fundamental law is necessary as a justification, that obedience is in all normal times a stringent duty, and that the instability of a government exposed without defence in its. most essential parts to perpetual revision, at every fluctuation of popular caprice, is wholly foreign to the genius of the

1 Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs.

English constitution. To state in the fullest and most authentic manner the principles on which the Whig party justified the Revolution was one great object of the impeachment, and that object was fully attained. Another important result was that the Tory defenders of Sacheverell abandoned in the law courts the obvious meaning of the teaching of the pulpit, and, aiming chiefly at acquittal, met the charges rather by evasion than by direct defence. The right of nations in extreme cases to resist their sovereign was the main question discussed, and the language of the pulpit on the subject had been perfectly unequivocal. The clergy had long taught that royalty was so eminently a divine institution that no injustice, no tyranny, no persecution could justify resistance. Sacheverell, it is true, in his speech during the trial, reaffirmed this doctrine without qualification, and numerous passages were cited from the homilies and from the works of Anglican divines, supporting it; but his counsel, on the other hand, admitted the right of resistance in extreme cases. They contended that a preacher was justified in laying down broad moral precepts, without pausing to enumerate all possible exceptions to their application; and one of the ablest of them maintained, in direct opposition to the spirit of Tory theology, that the supreme power in England was not in the sovereign, but in the legislature.' In the same spirit they urged that the term 'Toleration Act' was a popular expression unknown to the law, that the proper designation of the law referred to was the Act of Indulgence;' and that when Sacheverell denounced toleration' he alluded only to the insufficient prosecution of sceptical or blasphemous books. Many passages from such books were cited, and Sacheverell himself scandalised a large part of his audience by calling God to witness, in opposition to the plain, direct, and unquestionable meaning of his sermon, that he had neither suggested, nor did in his conscience believe, that the Church was in the least peril from Her Majesty's administra

See Sir Simon Harcourt's Speech for Sacheverell.

tion.' Such an assertion could have no effect, except to shake the credit of him who made it; and the House of Lords voted him guilty, by sixty-nine to fifty-two.

Here, however, ended the triumph of the Whigs. The popular feeling in favour of Sacheverell throughout England had risen almost to the point of revolution. The immense majority of the clergy were ardently on his side. The sympathies of the Queen were in the same direction. In the excited condition of the public mind, any act of severity might lead to the most dangerous consequences, and the House did not venture to impose more than a nominal penalty. The Dukes of Argyle and Somerset, who had for some time been wavering in their allegiance, took this occasion of abandoning the ministry, and several other Whig peers accompanied them.' Sacheverell was merely suspended from preaching for three years, and his sermons, together with the Oxford decree of 1683, were burnt. A resolution, that during the three years of his suspension he should be ineligible for promotion, was rejected by a majority of one. The House of Commons at the same time ordered the collection of sceptical passages which had been made for the defence to be burnt, as well as two books, 'On the Rights of the Christian Church' and a treatise On the Word Person,' of which the friends of Sacheverell had complained.

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The sentence was very naturally regarded as a triumph for the accused, and it was followed by a long and fierce burst of popular enthusiasm. In London and almost every provincial town the streets were illuminated, and the blaze of bonfires attested the exultation of the people. Addresses to

the Queen poured in from every part of the country, sometimes asserting in abject form the doctrine of passive obedience, censuring the conduct of her ministers, and in many cases imploring her to dissolve a Parliament which no longer represented the sentiments of her people.2 Sacheverell, within a few months of his trial, obtained a living in Shrop

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shire, and his journey to take possession of it was almost like a royal progress. At Oxford, where he continued for some time, he was magnificently entertained by the Earl of Abingdon, by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, and by the heads of the colleges. At Banbury the Mayor, Recorder, and Aldermen came, in full robes and with the mace before them, to bring him a present of wine, and to congratulate him on his deliverance. At Warwick, at Wrexham, at Shrewsbury, at Bridgenorth, at Ludlow, hundreds of the inhabitants, on horseback, escorted him into the town, while the church bells rang in his honour, and the steeples were draped with flags, and the streets hung with flowers. Drums beat and trumpets sounded at his approach, and wherever he appeared, his steps were thronged by admirers, wearing the oak-leaf so popular since the Restoration. He was forbidden to preach, but the churches could not contain the multitudes who pressed to hear him read the prayers, and crowds of infants were borne to the fonts where he presided. The Dissenters all over England were fiercely assailed. At Bristol one of their places of worship was pulled down, and the materials were flung into the river. At Exeter, Cirencester, Oxford, Gloucester, and many other places their meeting-houses and habitations were attacked, and the Low Churchmen were regarded with scarcely less virulence. One clergyman-the rector of the important and populous parish of Whitechapel-signalised himself by exhibiting, as an altarpiece in his church, a picture of the Last Supper, in which Judas was represented attired in a gown and band, with a black patch upon his forehead, and seated in an elbow-chair. The figure is said to have been at first intended for Burnet, but the painter, fearing prosecution, ultimately fixed upon Dean Kennet, a somewhat less powerful opponent of Sacheverell.1

The policy of the Queen during this outbreak was marked

'Kennet's Life, p. 140-142. Kennet wore a patch on account of a gun-shot received in early youth. This book gives a curious picture of the animosity against the Low

Churchmen during the Sacneverell episode. See too Wright's House of Hanover, Wilson's Life of Defoe, and the Histories of Burnet, Boyer, Somerville, and Tindal.

by much cautious skill. However strong may have been her 1 private sympathies, she appears during the trial to have acted in accordance with the wishes of her ministers. The chaplain who prayed for Sacheverell in her chapel was dismissed. Chief Justice Holt having died during the trial, Parker, one of the most eloquent managers of the impeachment, was promoted to his place, and a fortnight after the verdict the Queen prorogued Parliament with a speech, deploring that some had insinuated that the Church was in danger under her administration, and expressing her wish that men would study to be quiet, and to do their own business, rather than busy themselves in reviving questions and disputes of a very high nature.' She soon, however, perceived that the country was with the Tories, and manifested her own inclination without restraint. Among the minor incidents of the impeachment one of the most remarkable had been the reappearance in public life of the Duke of Shrewsbury. He had been conspicuous among the great Whig nobles who invited William to England, but after a brief, troubled, and vacillating career, had abandoned politics, and retired, embittered and disappointed, to Italy. I wonder,' he wrote with great bitterness to Somers in 1700, how any man who has bread in England will be concerned in business of State. Had I a son, I would sooner bind him a cobbler than a courtier, and a hangman than a statesman. After a long period of occultation, however, he again took his place in that assembly of which he had once been the brightest ornament, and when the Sacheverell case arose he gave the weight of a name and influence that were still very great to the Tory side, and was one of those who voted for the acquittal. About a week after the prorogation, the Queen, without even apprising her ministers till the last moment of her intention, dismissed Lord. Kent, the Lord Chamberlain, and gave the staff to Shrewsbury. The ministry should, undoubtedly, have resigned, but, partly through the constitutional indecision of Godolphin, and partly perhaps in order to avoid a dissolution of Parliament at a time when the current flowed strongly against their party,

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