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ness' sake.”—“I pray God work in you,” said Jefferies,
“ a temper fit to go unto the other world, for I see you · are not fit for this.” — "My lord,” replied Sidney, “ feel my pulse (holding out his hand), and see if I am disordered : I bless God I was never in better temper than I am now." * The feelings with which Jefferies presided at this trial may easily be divined when we hear the language with which he not long afterwards insulted the memory of Russell and of Sidney. In his summing up on the trial of Sir S. Barnardiston, for a misdemeanor, he said, “ Then here is, as I said, the sainting of two horrid conspirators ; here is the Lord Russell sainted, that blessed martyr; my Lord Russell, that good man, that excellent protestant: he is lamented, and what an extraordinary man he was, who was fairly tried and justly convicted, and attainted for having a hand in this horrid conspiracy against the life of the king, and his dearest brother, his royal highness, and for the subversion of the government. And here is Mr. Sidney sainted! What an extraordinary man he was! Yes, surely, he was a very good man, because you may some of you remember, or have read the history of those times, and know what share Mr. Sidney had in that black and horrid villany, that cursed treason and murder - the murder, I mean, of King Charles I., of blessed memory; a shame to religion itself, a perpetual reproach to the island we live in, to think that a prince should be brought, by pretended methods of law and justice, to such an end at his own palace. And it is a shame to think that such bloody miscreants should be sainted and lamented, who had any hand in that horrid murder and treason, and who, to their dying moments, when they were upon the brink of eternity, and just stepping into another world, could confidently bless God for their being engaged in that good cause, as they call it, which was the rebellion which brought that blessed martyr to his death. It is high time for all mankind that have any Christianity, or sense of heaven or hell, to bestir themselves,
* State Trials, vol, ix. p. 902.
to rid the nation of such caterpillars, such monsters of villany as these are.” *
The hatred with which Jefferies regarded the presbyterian party found a free vent on the trial of the celebrated Richard Baxter, for publishing what was termed a seditious libel. The language which, during this trial, Jefferies applied both to the counsel and to the defendant, was more gross, vulgar, and indecent than had ever before been heard in a court of justice. Interrupting Mr. Wallop, the counsel for Mr. Baxter, he said, “ Mr. Wallop, I observe you are in all these dirty causes; and were it not for you gentlemen of the long robe, who should have more wit and honesty than to support and hold up these factious knaves by the chin, we should not be at the pass we are at.” “My lord,” said Mr. Wallop, “I humbly conceive that the passages accused are natural deductions from the text.”—“ You humbly conceive!” cried Jefferies, “ and I humbly conceive.-Swear him-swear him!” Soon afterwards he added, “Sometimes you humbly conceive, and sometimes you are very positive; you talk of your skill in church history, and of your understanding Latin and English: I think I understand something of them too, as well as you, but in short must tell you that, if you do not understand your duty better, I shall teach it you.” Upon this Mr. Wallop sat down. On Baxter endeavouring to address the court, Jefferies stopped him. “ Richard ! Richard ! dost thou think we will hear thee poison the court ? Richard, thou art an old fellow, an old knave, and thou hast written books enough to load a cart. Every one is as full of sedition, I might say treason, as an egg is full of meat. Hadst thou been whipped out of thy writing trade forty years ago it had been happy. Thou pretendest to be a preacher of the gospel of peace, and thou hast one foot in the grave. It is time for thee to begin to think what account thou intendest to give; but leave thee to thyself, and I see thou wilt go on as thou hast begun; but, by
* State Trials, vol, ix. p. 1353.
the grace of God, I'll look after thee! I know thou hast a mighty party, and I see a great many of the brotherhood in corners, waiting to see what will become of their mighty don, and a doctor of the party (looking at Dr. Bates) at your elbow; but, by the grace of Almighty God, I will crush you all.”
When the chief justice had finished his summing up, Baxter said, “ Does your lordship think that any jury will pretend to pass a verdict upon me upon such a trial ?"-"I'll warrant you, Mr. Baxter,” replied Jefferies; “ don't you trouble yourself about that.” The jury immediately found a verdict of guilty.*
The rebellion of the Duke of Monmouth, in the autumn of 1685, quickly followed by the total rout and defeat of his army at Sedgmoor, opened a wide field for the display of those ferocious tastes by which Jefferies was distinguished. Monmouth had been highly popular in the west, through which, in the year 1680, he had made the triumphal progress celebrated by Dryden in his Absalom and Achitophel:
Of the popular rejoicings to which this visit gave rise an account has been preserved by a contemporary writer.t « In August, 1680, the Duke of Monmouth went into the country to divert himself, visiting several gentlemen in the west of England, by whom he was received and entertained with a gallantry suitable to the greatness of his birth and the relation he stood in to his majesty, incredible numbers of people flocking from all the adjacent parts to see this great champion of the English nation, who had been so successful both against the Dutch, French, and Scots. He went first into Wiltshire, and was pleased to honour the worthy esquire Thynne with his company for some days. From thence
* State Trials, vol. xi. p. 500. + Historical Account, &c. of James Duke of Monmouth.
he went to Mr. Speaks in Somersetshire, in which progress he was caressed with the joyful acclamations of the countrypeople, who came from all parts twenty miles about, the lanes and hedges being every where lined with men, women, and children, who with incessant shouts cried, “God bless king Charles and the protestant duke ! In some towns and parishes which he passed through, they strewed the streets and highways where he was to pass with herbs and flowers.” Five years afterwards the duke again appeared, and was joined by great numbers of his former friends, who little foresaw that the festivities and rejoicings, with which they had hailed their deliverer, were so soon to be replaced by the terror and dismay which the scaffold, the axe, and the halter inspire.
The unfortunate men who had adhered to Monmouth had of course incurred the penalties of high treason. To punish these ignorant and devoted wretches Jefferies was despatched to the west, not only with a commission of oyer and terminer, but with a military commission as general of the west; and the carnage that ensued was in strict accordance with the latter character. In the Life of James II., written by himself *, an attempt is made to exculpate the king from the guilt of these unheard-of cruelties. “ His imprudent zeal,” observes the royal biographer, speaking of Jefferies, “or, as some said, avarice, carrying him beyond the terms of moderation and mercy, which were always most agreeable to the king's temper, he drew undeservedly a great obloquy upon his majesty's clemency, not only in the number but the manner, too, of several executions.” The following letter, addressed by James II. to the Prince of Orange, and dated the 24th of September, 1685, seems to prove that the king was well acquainted with the course of these proceedings, during which it will be seen that he did not neglect to solace himself with the recreation of fox-hunting:-“ Since I came back from Winchester I received yours of the 21st from Loo, by Mr.
* Vol. ii. p. 43.
Sidney, and having been a fox-hunting on Tuesday last, had not then time to let you know it. I was this day again at the same sport, the weather being now very proper for it, having ended stag-hunting the day I returned hither. As for news, there is little stirring, but that lord chief justice has almost done his campaign.
He has already condemned several hundreds, some of • which are already executed, some are to be, and the
others sent to the plantations, which is all that I have now time to tell you, but that I shall always be as kind to you as you can desire.”* The singular story of Major Holmes is mentioned by the king as a proof of his own clemency and of the severity of Jefferies. “ This gentleman had been engaged with Monmouth, had lost a son and his arm in the battle, was taken prisoner, and brought up to town. The king being desirous to see him, he behaved himself in such a manner as gained an esteem from every body. His carriage was free from dejection, yet full of respect. He owned his fault, but had recourse to his majesty's mercy; but told him that, considering his losses and his age, the favour he asked would be more advantageous for his majesty's reputation to grant than beneficial to him to receive. The king, who loved courage even in an enemy, could not refrain countenancing of him, discoursed freely with him, and no one was more frequently in the king's antechamber, till it was thought fit to send him down into the west, as one who could best inform the lord chief justice who were the most criminal, and who most deserved mercy, and that he might do some service before he received his pardon, which was deferred only for that reason till after his return. But instead of that, the first news the king heard of him was that he had been hanged with the rest. This his majesty was very much surprised at, and made him question the chief justice at his return; but he palliated that and his other severities with the pretence of necessary justice, which the king having made him judge of, knew not how to
* Dalrymple's Appendix, part ii. p. 165.