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CHAPTER to have done, what the right reverend historian con
ceives to have been his duty, in a softer and less peremptory manner. Certain it is, that none of these holy men seem to have erred on the side of compassion or complaisance to their illustrious penitent. Besides endeavouring to convince him of the guilt of his connection with his beloved Lady Harriet, of which he could never be brought to a due sense, they seem to have repeatedly teased him with controversy, and to have been far more solicitous to make him profess what they deemed the true creed of the church of England, than to soften or console his sorrows, or to help him to that composure of mind so necessary for his situation. He declared himself to be a member of their church, but they denied that he could be so, unless he thoroughly believed the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance. He repented generally of his sins, and especially of his late enterprize, but they insisted that he must repent of it in the way they prescribed to him, that he must own it to have been a wicked resistance to his lawful King, and a detestable act of rebellion.* Some historians have imputed this seemingly cruel conduct to the King's particular instructions, who might be desirous of extracting, or rather extorting, from the lips
* Burnet, II. 330. Echard, III. 772.
of his dying nephew, such a confession as would be CHAPTER matter of triumph to the Royal cause. But the character of the two prelates principally concerned, both for general uprightness, and sincerity as church of England men, makes it more candid to suppose, that they did not act from motives of servile compliance, but rather from an intemperate party zeal for the honour of their church, which they judged would be signally promoted, if such a man as Monmouth, after having throughout his life acted in defiance of their favourite doctrine, could be brought in his last moments to acknowledge it as a divine truth. It must never be forgotten, if we would understand the history of this period, that the truly orthodox members of our church regarded monarchy not as a human, but as a divine institution, and passive obedience, and non-resistance, not as political maxims, but as articles of religion.
At ten o'clock on the 15th, Monmouth proceeded Circumstanin a carriage of the Lieutenant of the Tower, to execution. Tower-Hill, the place destined for his execution. The two bishops were in the carriage with him, and one of them took that opportunity of informing him, that their controversial altercations were not yet at an end; and that upon the scaffold, he would again be pressed for more explicit and satisfactory declarations
CHAPTER of repentance. When arrived at the bar, which
had been put up for the purpose of keeping out the multitude, Monmouth descended from the carriage, and mounted the scaffold, with a firm step, attended by his spiritual assistants. The sheriffs and executioners were already there. The concourse of spectators was innumerable, and if we are to credit traditional accounts, never was the general compassion more affectingly expressed. The tears, sighs, and groans, which the first sight of this heart-rending spectacle produced, were soon succeeded by an universal and awful silence; a respectful attention, and affectionate anxiety, to hear every syllable that should pass the lips of the sufferer. The Duke began by saying he should speak little; he came to die,
and he should die a Protestant of the church of Persecuted England. Here he was interrupted by the assistants,
and told, that, if he was of the church of England, he must acknowledge the doctrine of Non-resistance to be true. In vain did he reply that if he acknowledged the doctrine of the church in general, it included all : they insisted he should own that doctrine particularly with respect to his case, and urged much more concerning their favourite point, upon which, however, they obtained nothing but a repetition in substance of former answers. He was then proceeding
by his religious assis.
to speak of Lady Harriet Wentworth, of his high Chapter esteem for her, and of his confirmed opinion that their connection was innocent in the sight of God; when Goslin, the sheriff, asked him, with all the unfeeling bluntness of a vulgar mind, whether he was ever married to her. The Duke refusing to answer, the same magistrate, in the like strain, though changing his subject, said he hoped to have heard of his repentance for the treason and bloodshed which had been committed; to which the prisoner replied with great mildness, that he died very penitent. Here the churchmen again interposed, and renewing their demand of particular penitence and public acknowledgment upon publick affairs, Monmouth referred them to the following paper which he had signed that morning
“ I declare, that the title of King was forced upon “ me; and, that it was very much contrary to my
opinion, when I was proclaimed. For the satisfaction of the world, I do declare, that the late King told me, he was never married to my mother. Having declared this, I hope the King, who is
now, will not let my children suffer on this ac“count. And to this I put my hand this fifteenth day of July, 1685.
There was nothing, they said, in that paper about resistance; nor, though Monmouth, quite worn out with their importunities, said to one of them, in the most affecting manner, I am to die, -Pray my Lord, “ I refer to my paper,” would those men think it consistent with their duty to desist. They were only a few words they desired on one point. The substance of these applications on one hand, and answers on the other, was repeated, over and over again, in a manner that could not be believed, if the facts were not attested by the signature of the persons principally concerned.* If the Duke, in declaring his sorrow for what had passed, used the word invasion, “ give it the true name," said they, • call it rebellion." " What name you please," replied the mild-tempered Monmouth. He was sure he was going to everlasting happiness, and considered the serenity of his mind in his present circumstances, as a certain earnest of the favour of his Creator. His repentance, he said, must be true, for he had no fear of dying, he should die like a lamb.
Much may come from natural courage,” was the unfeeling and stupid reply of one of the assistants. Monmouth, with that modesty inseparable from true bravery, denied that he was in general less fearful than other men, maintaining that his present courage
* Vide Somers's Tracts, I. 435.