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Have I get
Is it probable that I should form and direct a conspiracy, and carry it on with any success, that am not used to arms, which I am no more acquainted with, than with the persons employed on those occasions ? My way of life hath not led me to converse with such men and such matters, except on the occasion of meeting in parliament; but in a council of war I never was. in any instance of my life meddled remarkably out of my own sphere, in affairs foreign to my business or charac. ter? I might have been thought to have been too active in my proper station and business; but I was never charged with war, nor any ways informed in the art of it.
Is it proper, that persons concerned in such military scheme, (if any such be formed by men of the sword that apply to such business) should be punished without any proof?
And must I, whose way of life is set at the greatest distance from such persons, and from the very suspicion of being concerned with them, suffer all the pains and penaltics, short of death, which the parliament can inflict for a supposed I know not what, and what I don't to this day apprehend ?
Here is a plot of a year or two standing, to subvert the government with an armed force; and invasion from abroad; an insurrection at home; just when ripe for execution it is discovered ; and twelve months after the contrivance of this scheme, no consultation appears, no inen corresponding together, no provision of money, arms, or officers-not a man in arms-and
poor bishop hath done all this.
Layer and Plunket carry on a treasonable correspond. ence, they go to Rome and receive directions from the pretender himself, to promote his cause-it doth no where appear that the bishop has the least share in, or is any way privy to, their practices; and yet the bishop has done all; he is principally concerned in forming, direct. ing, and carrying on this detestable conspiracy.
What could tempt me to step thus out of my way? Was it ambition and a desire of climbing into a higher station in the church? There is not a man in my office farther removed from this than I am; I have a hundred times said, and sincerely resolved, I would have been nothing more than I was, at a time when I little thought of being any thing lower, and I can give an instance of this kind if I thought proper.
Was money my aim ? I always despised it, too much perhaps, considering what occasion I am now like to have for it; for out of a poor bishoprick of five hundred pounds per annum, I have laid out no less than two thousand pounds towards the repairs of the church and episcopal palace; nor did I take one shilling for dilapidations; and the rest of my little income has been spent as is necessary, as I am a bishop. Nor do I repent of these expences now, (though since my long confinement I have not received the least part of the income of my deanery) not doubting in the least, but that God who hath liberally provided for me hitherto, will still do it ; and on this good providence I securely rely.
Was I influenced by any dislike of the established religion, and secretly inclined towards a church of greater pomp and power ? I have my lords, ever since I knew what popery was, opposed it, and the better I knew it, the more I disliked it.
I begun my study in divinity, when the popish controversy grew hot about that immortal book of Tillotson's, when he undertook the defence of the protestant cause in general, and as such I esteemed him above all.
You will pardon me, my lords, if I mention one thing :
Thirty years ago I writ in defence of Martin Luther, and have preached and writ to that purpose from my infancy; and whatever happens to me, I will suffer any thing, and will, by God's grace, burn at the stake, rather than to depart from any material point of the protestant religion, as professed in the church of England.
Once more : Can I be supposed to favour arbitrary power? The whole tenor of my life hath been otherwise : I was always a friend of the liberty of the subject, and, to the best of my power constantly maintained it: I may have been thought mistaken in the measures I took to support it.
It matters not by what party I was called, so my actions are uniform.
To return to the point : The charge brought against me, in the manner it is brought, is improbable : If I could be guilty of it, I must have acted under a spirit of infatuation ; yet I have never been thought an ideot or a madman.
My lords, as to the pains and penalties contained in this bill, they are great and grievous, beyond example in their nature and direction.
I am here, my lords, and have been here expecting an immediate trial. I have, my lords, declined no impeachment. The correspondence with the earl of Clarendon was made treason, but with me it is only felony ; yet he was allowed the conversation of his children, by the ex. press word of the act ; mine are not so much as to write, so much as to be sent to me.
What is most particular in my case I will repeat distinctly, that my reverend brethren may hear it.
hear it. I am rendered incapable of using or exercising any office, function, authority, or power ecclesiastical, not only in his majesty's dominions, but any where else : Very hard ! that such spiritual power as is not derived from men, but God himself, should be taken from me.
And I am not only deprived of all offices, dignities, and benefices ecclesiastical, and forever banished the realm, but likewise precluded from the benefit of royal clemency, and made utterly incapable of any pardon by his majesty, his heirs and successors.
My lords, I insist on my innocence, that I am not guilty ; and if I am not proved so, your lordships will
thus judge; if otherwise, I persuade myself I shall find some degree of mercy.
You will not strip a man of his substance, and then send him where he cannot subsist ; you will not send him among strangers, and then hinder others from performing humanity to him ; you will not give him less time to order his affairs and depart the kingdom, then the bill hath taken in passing through both houses.
The great man I last mentioned, carried a great for.' tune with him into foreign parts, and had the languages; was well acquainted abroad; the reverse of all this is my case; I indeed am like him in nothing but his innocence, and his punishment. It is in no man's power to make us differ in the one, but it is in your lordships' power to make us differ widely in the other, and I hope your lordships will do it.
But to sum up the argument: It hath been frequently observed, that the higher the crimes are, the fuller the proofs ought to be. Here is a charge of high treason brought against me, with no evidence at all.
My lords, pardon me, what is not evidence at law, can never be made so by any power on earth; for the law that required the evidence, is as much the law of the land, as that which declares the crime.
It is equally unjust to declare any proof legal, because of my prosecution: As extraordinary would it be, to declare acts themselves, ex post facto.
Never was there a charge of so high a nature, and so weakly proved.
A person dead, so that there is not an opportunity to falsify him by contradicting him ; a charge not supported by one evidence, nor by one proof of any thing, that hath been writ or received by me, nor even by any one criminal word proved to have been spoken by me ; but by intercepted letters and correspondence, in which appears not the least certainty.
Some of those letters, shown to persons, with a de. sign to fasten something on them ; others writ in cyphers, VOL. I.
and fictitious names, throwing out dark and abstruse hints of what persons went by those names, sometimes true and sometimes doubtful, and often false, who con. tinue all the while strangers to the whole transaction, and never make the discovery, till they feel and find it advancing itself towards them : My lords, this is my case in short.
I have a hard task to prove my innocence: Shall I stand convicted before your lordships on such an evidence as this? The hearsay of an hearsay ; a party dead, and that denied what he said ; by strange and obscure passages, and fictitious names in letters ; by the conjecture of decypherers, without any opportunity given me of examining and looking into the decyphering; by the depositions of post office clerks about the similitude of hands; their depositions made at distant times, and without comparing any one of the originals, and by a strange interpretation of them: for nothing more, I am per. suaded, can be made of the arguments, than what is called the intercepted correspondence.
Shall I, my lords, be deprived of all that is dear to me, and, in the circumstances I am in, scarce able to bear up, and by such an evidence as would not be ad
, mitted in any other cause or any other court; and would hardly affect a Jew in the inquisition of Spain ?
And shall it be received against a bishop of this church, and a member of this house? God forbid. Give me leave to make mention of a text in holy writ:
Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses." It is not said, condemn him not upon an accusation, &c. but, receive it not; I am something more than an elder ; and shall an accusation against me be countenanced, without any one instance of a proof to support it.
This is not directly matter of ecclesiastical constitution: there you read, one witness should not rise up against an elder; but here, at the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall the matter be estab