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by a simple manoeuvre, was tracked from Waters's, the banker's, and proved to be Dillon. A scheme for carrying Prince Charles (aged two!) to Scotland was frustrated. On May 19, Kelly, Atterbury's secretary, was arrested in London. By the beginning of June a camp was formed in Hyde Park, where the soldiers could not easily be corrupted. From Rome James was reported to be "more melancholy than ever," which is not surprising. By the middle of June 1722, in fact, the whole plot for overthrowing the Government by aid of Ormond, some officers, some Irish recruits, and a Scotch rising under an innocent unhappy baby, was overthrown. The Wogans retired to Paris.
Now, in this collapse of hope, comes on the scene Mr Christopher Layer, barrister-at-law, with "The Scheme." "The Scheme" was only a development of that in which Ormond was to lead; his place was to be taken by Lord North and Grey (appointed by James in January), a general who was in the Junta of Five, with Atterbury, and who had lost an arm at Blenheim. That such a man should even glance at such a plot proves the incredible infatuation of the Jacobites. North soon declined into a forlorn exile, all because he, a nobleman of courage and character, chose to mix himself up with the most harebrained chatterer whom Jacobite frivolity ever begot.
Mr Layer is said to have been the son of a lace-merchant in Holborn, and he told his examiners that he had imbibed Jacobite principles from an uncle in Norfolk. He practised at the Bar, and had an ill name for a loose life. Mrs Layer, however, was his associate in his schemes, and was greatly pleased at making the
acquaintance of "dear Lady" this, and "charming Lady" the other. On April 1, 1721, Layer went to Rome by way of Venice, in company with one John Plunket, a Jesuit, or a person trained by the Jesuits. Now, whereas Layer represented himself always as an amateur Jacobite, unacquainted with and unaccredited by the party, this Plunket had certainly been in the foremost rank of conspirators, since 1713 at Among his papers were letters from the Duke of Berwick, dated 1713, with other letters, proving his intimacy with Mary of Modena, the exiled widow of James II. Now, on March 22, 1721, Plunket wrote from London to the Chevalier, saying "The gentleman I mentioned to you formerly is come out of the country, with instructions to wait on you, and tender you their service. He offers to bear my expenses if I go with him. . . . I believe I shall accept of his offer." This gentleman was Layer, who, as we saw, left England for Rome with Plunket on April 1, ten days after Plunket's letter to James. Thus Layer, far from making a tour of curiosity, and visiting James as a mere amateur Jacobite, was accompanied by a a veteran and trusted conspirator, and bore a List of Norfolk gentlemen, with their salutations to James. In Rome he was led, at night, up the stair out of the cellar into James's rooms that stair, according to Jacobite gossip, was very familiar, in after-years, to the Duke of Bedford, of all people! Layer was, later, introduced to Clementina, and it was arranged that the exiled King and Queen should stand sponsors, by proxy, to Layer's child. And, consequently, Lord North and the Duchess of Ormond did act as proxies, much,
no doubt, to the delight of poor Mrs Layer. All this was done to give the Jacobite lords confidence in Layer, as a man favoured by their sovereign. Layer now knew and intrigued with Lord Orrery; he dined, and drank, and resided, and shot, with Lord North.
By July 5, 1722, we find Plunket writing to Dillon from London: "My fellow - traveller" (that is, Layer) "is and has been very active since his coming from his travels: he is more serviceable than those that move in a much higher sphere; he is spurring on the Club daily, and made a great many of them more active." Now, the Club was an association of Jacobite gentry and nobles, under Lord Orrery. Plunket was not actively engaged in this plot (he was dawdling with an idiotic project in la haute politique), and perhaps he exaggerated Layer's influence. In any case, Atterbury was arrested on August 24, and on September 19 Mr Christopher Layer was in custody. One Neynoc, a partner of Kelly's, had also been taken. He gave a good deal of information implicating Atterbury, and then drowned himself. Layer escaped from a Messenger's house and crossed the river, but was recaptured. A Mr Stephen Lynch and Sergeant Matthew Plunket informed against him for a pardon. Layer's papers were found in the house of Mrs Quickly, in the hands of a Miss Doll Tearsheet. Poor Layer was trapped, and "The Scheme," discovered among his documents, was revealed. Layer was tried and condemned in November. He admitted that he held correspondence, in cipher, with Sir William Ellis in Rome, and with Prince Charlie's nurse, who had a grille for secret writing! Layer had a plan for raising money for the Chevalier
by a lottery, and possessed blank receipts signed "James R." But what destroyed Layer was The Scheme. Lynch gave evidence that he came to England in April, was introduced by a Dr Murphy to Layer, and, early in June (when the Ormond plot fell through), was selected by Layer as "an honest man," proper to kidnap Lord Cadogan. He also heard of a plan to corrupt the soldiers, and was introduced by Layer to Lord North, as the General in the whole plot. Now, it is certain that, since January, North had actually held James's commission as chief in war. As for Matthew Plunket, a discharged sergeant, he gave evidence that he was to corrupt, for Layer, eight other sergeants of the Guards. Officers were to be tampered with, half-pay captains to be employed; and the whole whole Revolution pivoted on Lynch, Matthew Plunket, and a problematic eight sergeants! Lynch had received from Layer about £8, 10s., and Matthew Plunket about £1, 17s. 6d. Layer knew none of the army, he depended solely on one invalided sergeant; but this was the plot, and these the instruments, on which he wrecked Lord North, and discredited Atterbury.
The famous Scheme, itself, was probably not drawn up by Layer. It was headed with the motto, Au defaut de la Force, il faut employer la Ruse, and it was proved that Layer had asked a friend for a translation of these words. The Scheme, roughly, was conceived thus: Given (what there is no proof that they had) an officer in the Guards,—Let him meet the eight practicable sergeants at four in the afternoon. They select twenty-five men each from the Camp, who stroll out separately, and meet at a churchyard at half
past eight, with another officer. They are armed by him, and admitted, under colour of a reinforcement, to the Tower, at nine o'clock. They seize the Tower and the arms, leave a small guard, and meet the General at the Exchange. At nine, also, Cadogan, Walpole, Townshend, and Carteret are kidnapped, and carried to the Exchange. Next day the artillery in the Camp is seized, by friendly soldiers, and the sacred person of the King himself is secured. The mob is raised and armed, the Bank is robbed, and the rest is easy. The Scheme was corroborated by papers delivered in July and August 1722 to one of his Majesty's Ministers, by a Person in the Plot, who, from gratitude for a favour, informed the Minister that he was to be kidnapped. The papers were copied by stealth "out of a nobleman's scrutore, whom he refused to name.' The project thus revealed was for digging up and distributing hidden arms, and for erecting barricades. "Twentythree officers of the Guards to be
depended upon. . . . .. Day resolved on, April 30. Lord N. [North] being commander-in-chief." This, from the date, was part of the earlier plot of the "young merchants," to be tenderly treated by Atterbury, the Plot in which Ormond was to have been engaged. Layer's scheme was much the same, the part of Ormond being omitted. To this degree of atrocity and imbecility had Jacobitism sunk. On Layer's arrest, North, a hero of Blenheim, fled, but was taken; Orrery and the Duke of Norfolk were imprisoned, as, of course, was Atterbury. All was over, and Layer, who was respited in hopes of further confessions, was hanged, quite impenitent, on May 17, 1723.
Such was the Plot, and about
VOL. CLXI.-NO. DCCCCLXXV.
Atterbury's implication in it there can be no doubt at all. "Jones (Atterbury) "promises to be a good customer," writes Kelly in May. Atterbury made at his trial a very able defence, marked by two curious features. One was not patent to any eyes but those of the Ministers and Lord Mar. Atterbury never doubted that Mar had betrayed him. Thus, his own letters of April 20 (which, of course, he disavowed) had been intercepted, copied, and forwarded. Colonel Churchill was then sent over to Paris by the English Government, and had several interviews with Mar, a Jacobite pensioner of George I. He persuaded Mar to write to Atterbury a letter of May 11, signed Motfield, as in the cipher. That letter, one of mere compliment, fixed on Atterbury his identity with the author of the three letters of April 20 to James, Dillon, and Mar. Moreover, this letter, contrary to Atterbury's injunctions, was sent by the common post, in order that it might be intercepted.
Mar has always suffered under this imputation of treachery, which James was, very reluctantly, induced to entertain. Dr Glover, editor of the 'Stuart Papers,' clearly believes the story; and the obvious facts are very suspicious. Thus, Mar would have sold his allies in May 1722. Yet as late as July 22 we find an attaché of the English Embassy at Paris, Mr Crawford, writing to Carteret with an account of the ruse by which he has just tracked Atterbury's correspondent, Digby, and found him to be Dillon. If the English Government, in July, really did not know who Digby was, Mar can hardly have sold plot and cipher in May. However, in 1752 the English Government, having an
excellent spy on Prince Charles, seem to have left their French Ambassador to blunder and con
jecture. Probably they were play ing the same game in 1722, unless, indeed, Crawford's letter about his discovery of Dillon is a blind to hide their real source of information. For Kelly, when released on bail, after his arrest on May 1,
writes that his examiners "mentioned no persons to him, but G. Dillon and one Mr Morgan.' This was on June 11, five weeks before Crawford says that he had run Dillon to earth. On the whole, since the Government had Atterbury's letters, Mar's reply, and skilled decipherers, or a key sent by Mar, they probably did know everything, and Crawford, left in the dark, was discovering the secret of Pollichinello. However, the evidence of Crawford's letter in Mar's favour must be given for what it may be worth. Atterbury, in his defence, maintained that "the letter from Motfield" (Mar), "dated the 11th of May, cannot be reasonably thought to have been wrote with any other view than that of being intercepted, and of fixing upon me the letter of April 20." Thus Atterbury let Mar know that he knew of his treason.
The other curious feature in Atterbury's defence is his extreme equivocation, which seems to pass into direct and robust lying. That he should argue against the validity of the proofs is well and legitimate. But he had the audacity to defend himself
"by protesting and declaring my innocence to your lordships, in the most deliberate, serious, and solemn manner; and appealing to God, the searcher of hearts, as to the truth of what I say. I am charged in the report with directing [dictating] a correspondence to Mr Kelly; but
Now, we have James's letter to Atterbury, of January 4, 1722: "By next post I shall send to Mr Dillon the Commissions mentioned in my reply, and with them fair warrants for your worthy Partners," and James regrets that he cannot yet make Atterbury Archbishop of Canterbury! Yet Atterbury denies that he "ever knew of any Commissions," and for the truth of the assertion he "appeals to God, the searcher of hearts." Could Garnet or Greenway do more— nay, did they do as much? And this was the defence for which Atterbury, when concocting it, told Pope that his friends need not blush. To Pope, who believed him, Atterbury always kept up the farce of his innocence.
One thing, as was observed at the time, Atterbury could not do,
he could not profess his devotion to the House of Hanover. As Ratcliffe says, in 'The Heart of Mid-Lothian,' everybody has a bit of conscience somewhere about him. But Atterbury's conscience was almost as carefully esoteric as that of the worthy Rat.
Atterbury was let off with exile, Plunket and Kelly had terms of imprisonment (Kelly escaped from the Tower after fourteen long years of it, and was one of the Seven Men of Moidart), only Layer was hanged. His skull was treasured by, and buried in the hand of, Dr Rawlinson-if it was his skull, for the doctor is said to have preserved the wrong article. With martyrs
like Layer, and a confessor like Atterbury, the Jacobites of England are not highly to be congratulated, and Protestantism, when she throws stones at the Jesuits of 1605, is rather apt to forget the fragility of one of her own windows.
We have shown that "The Bishop's Plot" was, in atrocity and absurdity, much on a level with the Gunpowder Treason. We have shown that Atterbury, though he probably knew no details of "The Scheme" in its latest form, was acquainted with it in its earlier shape, for he had read Ormond's and Captain Will Morgan's letters, and, by Kelly's admission, meant to make use of the conspirators. We have also shown that he is to treat the conspirators "tenderly," and that, during the height of The Scheme, he was plotting in the " "arrack affair, probably procuring the sinews of war. This is guilt enough, to which he adds wellnourished lies, addressed to private friends as well as to enemies,
backed by an appeal to God, the "searcher of hearts." He would not have been a credit to the Church as Archbishop of Canterbury, especially as his temper was such that he once, in a dispute, seized Sir Harry Goring by the collar!
The conclusion seems to be that, as Mr Harry Foker says, "it is a pity the clergy should meddle in these matters," whether they be Jesuits, Anglicans, or Covenanters, "whose cry is blood, and their motto No Quarter," in the phrase of the Rev. Richard Cameron.
The evidence is from Howells's State Trials,' vol. xvi., the solitary volume of 'Stuart Papers' (1847), and the 'Report from the Lords' Committees, and Appendices' (1723); while references to the parallel intrigues of thirty years later are from the Stuart MSS. at Windsor Castle and the Additional Manuscripts in the British Museum.