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BOOK council in which the assurance was contained. His

former extrajudicial confession, the only evidence
of his attempt to assassinate a prelate and a privy
counsellor, was attested by Sharp the primate,
Rothes the chancellor, Lauderdale high commis,
sioner, and Hatton a lord of the treasury and ses-
sion, who, in their zeal to convict the prisoner,
did not scruple to declare on oath that no assur.
ance whatsoever had been given for the preserva-
tion of his life. The copy of the act of council
was produced. The books of council, deposited
in the adjoining chamber, were demanded as evi-
dence for the prisoner, since his extrajudicial con-
fession before the same judicature had been ad-
mitted as proof. But the duke of Lauderdale,
who as a witness was not entitled to speak, inter-
rupted the court in a strain of imperious authority,
declared that the books of council contained the
secrets of the king, which no court should be per-
mitted to examine; and as he affirmed that the
four counsellors came not there to be accused of
perjury, it was immediately understood that they
were all forsworn. The court, intimidated per-
haps by his threats, determined by an obsequious
majority that it was too late to apply for produc-
tion of the record, of which an authenticated copy
had been refused by the clerk. But it is observ.
able, as a melancholy instance of the depravity or
servility of the bench, that the justice general, who
furnished a surreptitious copy, and had previously



admonished Lauderdale of the existence of the act, BOOK

VII. possessed neither virtue nor fortitude sufficient to attest the fact, as a witness or as a judge, but pro. nounced condemnation to death, upon a man whom his evidence ought to have preserved. 71

Before the jury had returned a verdict, the four and execu-lords, as soon as the court had adjourned, examin- Jan. 18. ed the books of council where the evidence of their perjury was recorded, and where it is still preserv, ed to their eternal reproach. Their conduct suffi. ciently evinces the persuasion under which they acted, that there was no record of their assurance to Mitchel; and they still affected to believe, that nothing more was intended than a promise to intercede with the king for his life. The blame was transferred from the chancellor who subscribed, to the clerk who inserted the assurance in their mi. nutes; the latter discovered that the act of council was framed by Nisbet, from whom they proposed to levy a severe fine; but the latter procured nine privy counsellors who offered to swear, and lord Hatton's letters also were produced to prove, that a full assurance of life had been approved and confirmed by the privy council, when engrossed in its books. Lauderdale was at length inclined to grant a respite till the king was consulted; but the primate was inexorable. He urged that the example was absolutely necessary to preserve his life from assassins, to which Lauderdale assented with a

State Trials, ii. 627.



BOOK profane and inhuman jest.72 Doubtless the fana.

ticism of Mitchel was of the most daring and atro. cious nature; but the guilt of that fanatick is lost in the complicated perfidy, cruelty, perjury and revenge which accomplished his death. It was the ardent desire of ministers to involve the whole body of presbyterians in his guilt; but in the prosecution of this object they incurred the just imputation of more detestable crimes. Horror and universal execration were excited by the treachery and almost unexampled perjuries of the first ministers in the church and in the state; and the precautions employed by Sharp for his safety and revenge, contributed two years afterwards to his disastrous fate.

ya “ Nay, then, let him glorify God in the Grass-market," the place of execution. Burnet, ii. 80. Wodrow, i. 375.514.






Introduction of the Highlanders, and their severities

in the West.-Murder of Sharp.--Insurrection of Bothwell Bridge - Suppressed by MonmouthDuke of York's administration Act of succession, and the test-Argyle's trial and escape.-Ryehouse plot-Prostitution of Justice, Executions, Extortions, Murders in the fieldsDeath and character of Charles II.


1678. Pretext for


N the marriage of the prince of Orange with BOOK

the princess Mary, eldest daughter of the duke of York, an alliance was lastily concluded with Holland, in consequence of a transient dis- a standing gust at the French court. A large army was appointed to be raised, and the king, if supported by the English parliament, was apparently determined






BOOK' to consult for once the inclination of the people,

and the interest of the rest of Europe, by a war with France. But the popular party were alarmed at an army of twenty thousand men, suddenly raised within six weeks: thcy apprehended that the military force with which they had intrusted the court, was intended, not to prosecute the war abroad, but to subvert their religion and their liberties at home. From late discoveries, it appears indisputable that their apprehensions were just. The duke of York, who considered his religion as otherwise lost, had resumed the design of procuring a large army, which he expected to command in person, and by reducing the kingdom to subjection, proposed to render his brother absolute, and to secure his own precarious succession to the throne. The exccution of this desperate design was prevented by the combination of the popular leaders with the court of France; and the army, which was equally formidable to both, was dissolved by a secret treaty, or money transaction, between the latter and Charles.

Sir John Dalrymple's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 165–53–9. oct. edit. “The duke of York (says Barillon) believes himself “ lost as to his religion, if the present opportunity does not « serve to bring England into subjection; it is a very bold en“ terprise, and the success very doubtful. The king still wa“ vers upon carrying things to extremity ; his humour is very “ repugnant to the design of changing the government. He “ is, nevertheless, drawn along by the duke of York and the

high treasurer." Id. 194.

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