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and sermons by the most eminent of its prelates, and by others of its superior clergy. Their defence was undoubtedly a good one; for never, since the world began, was the right divine, with all its mischievous inferences, asserted more explicitly than by the church of England in this and the preceding reigns. All parties having been heard, the upper house debated whether the commons had established their articles of impeachment; and after a long and fiery discussion, in which the earl of Wharton, and Burnet the bishop of Salisbury, especially distinguished themselves, it was agreed, though only by a very narrow majority, that Sacheverell was guilty. He was condemned to be suspended from his office for the space of three years, to be incapable of any preferment during that period,-and to have both his sermons burnt by the common hangman. The lenity of this sentence was regarded by the tories as a high triumph, and most uproarious rejoicings on the occasion were made throughout the country. "The church and Dr Sacheverell"-par nobile fratrum-were invariably coupled together, and the great mass of the population looked on this contemptible mountebank as the prime ornament of the episcopal church. During the trial multitudes had followed him on his progress to Westminster-hall every morning,-kissing his hand,-showering blessings on his sacred head, and alternately breathing prayers for his deliverance, and yelling forth good round oaths against his accusers. Who does not admire the piety of a church-and-king mob?
We have already said that Sacheverell was a mere tool in the hands of others. The reason why so many men of unquestioned sense and parts had advocated Sacheverell's innocence soon became apparent. For several years the tory party had been pressing onward to the possession of political power by all the little, dirty paths of corruption and intrigue; and at length, through the magnanimous assistance of a mountebank and a waiting-maid, their leader Harley grasped the premiership. We know it has been denied that Sacheverell was instrumental in producing this change of affairs, and we do not wonder at the denial, for the very idea of profiting from such a dunghill source must have been gall and wormwood to a haughty man like Bolingbroke. It is, however, apparent, beyond a possibility of mistake, that the Doctor's famous sermons, and the political feelings excited by them, were mainly influential in resolving the queen to change her counsellors.'
In the mean time Sacheverell, in order to wile away the dull hours of his suspension, made a tour through the country, which the zeal of the people converted into a sort of triumphal progress. In almost every part of the kingdom he was received with a clamorous veneration, which would have seemed ludicrous, even in his own eyes, if he had not been devoured by the most egregious vanity. The testimony of a contemporary will give the best idea of the scene. Cunningham says, "Dr Sacheverell, making a progress round the country, was looked upon as another Hercules for the church-militant. Wherever he went, his emissaries were sent before with his pictures; pompous entertainments
1 Swift, in his Journal to Stella, says of Sacheverell, he hates the new ministry mortally, and they hate him, and pretend to despise him too. They will not allow him to have been the occasion of the late change,-at least, some of them will not; but my lord-keeper owned it to me the other day."
were made for him; and a mixed multitude of country-singers, fiddlers, priests, and sextons, and a mob of all conditions, male and female, crowded together to meet and congratulate him; among whom drunk enness, darkness, and a furious zeal for religion extinguished all regard to modesty." This extravagance was too gross to continue long; and, in the end, the Doctor became as ridiculous in the eyes of the people as he had formerly been glorious. On threatening to visit Ely they declared that if he entered the town he should be stoned. Finding a similar spirit in other places, this champion of the church, whose reverence for the martyrs' crown was so profound that he took care to keep at the utmost possible distance from it, returned quietly to London. As soon as the term of his suspension had expired, the queen, who, it is said, had always been favourable to him, presented him to the living of St Andrews, Holborn; and shortly afterwards he had the honour of delivering to the house of commons a sermon, for which he received their thanks. About the same time a considerable estate was left to him by one of his relations. In 1716 he prefixed a dedication to a copy of sermons preached by one W. Adams, M. A. After this period little more is known of him, except from quarrels with his parishioners. He died on the 5th of June, 1724, bequeathing, by his will, £500 to Atterbury, who was at that time in exile.
The character of this worthy has been too fully elucidated by his life to require any comments upon it here. He occupies a prominent place in the history of Queen Anne's reign, and he certainly did much to secure the triumph of the tory party; but he is only the base tool of more cunning heads,—the Captain Bobadil of the play; and the very men who profited by him were ashamed of using him. It should not be forgotten that rats may uproot houses, and that pismires are sometimes dangerous. The dutchess of Marlborough calls him "an ignorant, impudent incendiary,—a man who was the scorn even of those who made use of him as a tool;" and Burnet says, with less warmth but equal truth, that he was "bold and insolent, with a very small measure of religion, learning, virtue, or good sense; but he resolved to force himself into popularity and preferment by the most petulant railing at dissenters and low-churchmen, in several sermons and libels wrote without either chasteness of style or liveliness of expression: all was an unpractised strain of indecent and scurrilous language."
Harley, Earl of Oxford and Mortimer.
BORN A. D. 1661.-DIED A. D. 1724
ROBERT HARLEY, earl of Oxford and Mortimer, was the eldest son of Sir Edward Harley, and was born in Bow-street, Covent-garden, London, on the fifth of December, 1661. His original destination was for the army; but the early developement of his talents, and the evident leaning of his mind to civil rather than to military life, occasioned this design to be abandoned. He received an excellent education from a clergyman named Birch, who resided near Burford in Oxfordshire, and whose name has been rescued from oblivion by the celebrity of
many of his pupils.' Harley's first step in public life was at the Revolution, when, in conjunction with his father, he raised a troop of horse, and joined the prince of Orange soon after his landing. In 1690, he entered the house of commons as member for the borough of Tregony. Having been educated in whig principles, and his family being presbyterian, he naturally joined the Revolution party; but becoming discontented with William's government, either through the influence of Marlborough, with whom he had contracted a friendship, or because he thought a junction with the opposite party most likely to forward his own ambitious views, it was not long before he ranked himself among the tories. His talents and address in debating soon attracted the attention of the house; so that, in 1694, he was appointed to bring in a bill for the more frequent summoning of parliaments, and his task was so well executed, that the bill passed through both houses without any amendment. Such great confidence did the house place in his ability, that, in 1701, on the meeting of the fifth parliament of King William, he was chosen speaker; and no man, we are told, filled the chair with greater ability. A speaker in those times was not tied down by the restraints which modern etiquette has imposed. Harley continued to take as active a part in the contentions of parties as he had done when out of office. Shortly after the meeting of parliament, the memorable act of settlement was introduced; and although the tories could not openly resist the passing of a measure, so loudly demanded by the circumstances of the times, and by the concurrent wishes of the king and the people, they used every method to impede its progress. The speaker, who was in reality devoted to the tory party, though with his usual trimming policy he endeavoured to win the favour of their opponents, used all the acts which he could invent to throw the bill aside. Among other methods of procrastination, he advised, that as "the haste the nation was in when the present government was settled, had made us overlook many securities which might have prevented much mischief," the future sovereign should be bound down by certain conditions, which should effectually secure the liberties of the people. Harley's advice was good in itself, though given with a bad intention, and fortunately it did not serve the end proposed. The bill was carried along with the restrictions of the regal power; and thus it happened, that the very men who made a boast of their unswerving attachment to the throne and to all its prerogatives, became, by their own factious measures, the instruments of confining the sovereignty within smaller limits than had ever been known before. In 1704 he was appointed to the office of secretary of state. It will be recollected that Marlborough and Godolphin-the ministers under whom he accepted office-were just at this period paving the way for an alliance with their ancient enemies the whigs; and they probably thought that Harley, who was bound to Marlborough by no common ties of gratitude, and whom they rightly believed to have no higher principle than themselves, would' change along with them, and devote his talents to their support. But they knew not the subtle treachery of the serpent whom they fostered in their bosoms. He still kept up his correspondence with the tories,
Besides Harley, this gentleman had educated Harcourt, lord-chancellor; Trevor, lord-chief-justice of the common pleas, and ten members of parliament, all of whom flourished at the same time.
and he had not long taken his seat at the council-board, before it was found that his influence with the queen was greater than that of any other of her advisers. The famous Mrs Masham, at first the minion but now the rival of the dutchess of Marlborough, had acquired a complete ascendancy over the queen, and Harley insinuated himself so successfully into her good graces, that she employed all her influence in exalting him in the queen's favour, and depreciating the other ministers. Through this despicable channel he maintained a clandestine communication with his sovereign, and by flattering her with high notions of the prerogative, which he represented Marlborough and Godolphin as anxious to reduce, he managed to wean her from her old and long-tried friends, whose counsels had given her reign a brilliancy scarcely rivalled in the brightest periods of our history. It is one of the most nauseating proofs of Harley's dissimulation, that at this very time when he was using his utmost efforts to undermine his patrons, he made in letters, which are still preserved, most earnest professions of his sincere and unalterable attachment to their interests. But such gross duplicity could not long elude Godolphin's shrewdness; and, in 1708, he and Marlborough demanded Harley's dismissal, threatening to resign office if their demand was refused. Anne for a long time resisted their proposal, and would probably have parted with them both, rather than have lost her favourite, had not the wily politician, whose designs were not yet fully ripe, offered of his own accord to resign, and "bowing low his grey dissimulation" to the storm, retired from office along with his followers. He still continued to enjoy the entire confidence of Anne, who took no step without consulting him, and by dint of intrigues in private and plausible speeches in public,-by cajoling some of the leaders of his opponents into a desertion of their party,—by instilling into the tories the belief that the ministers were wholly devoted to the whigs, and into the whigs the suspicion that they were about to make peace with the tories,-he succeeded in sapping the stability of the administration. Their overthrow was hastened by their foolish impeachment of Dr Sacheverell, for the bedlamite nonsense which that worthy had poured forth from the pulpit. Harley's conduct on this occasion seems to have been a model of duplicity. In his speech on Sacheverell's impeachment," he made use," says Cunningham, "of such a circumgyration of incoherent words as he had before condemned in Sacheverell, so that they could not discover, from his expressions, whether he spoke for him or against him." The tremendous outburst of high-church zeal, which was elicited by this famous trial, gave assurance to the queen and her friends that the time was now come for the developement of their designs. Accordingly Godolphin and his party were summarily dismissed,—the treasury was put in commission, -St John was made secretary of state,-and Harley chancellor of the exchequer. The triumph of the tories was completed by the general election which took place shortly afterwards; and Burnet informs us that the court made use of such arbitrary and unconstitutional means to procure favourable returns as had never been known before, and the success of their machinations was evidenced by the assembly of a parliament, three-fourths of which were so furiously loyal, that they looked
* Vide the Hardwicke State Papers.
to a foreign court for their legitimate prince, and so religious, that they were bent on imposing pains and penalties on freedom of conscience. So zealous were they for their principles, that the moderation, or rather the trimming policy of the new minister, awakened their dislike, and it is probable that he would have been speedily abandoned by his friends, had it not been for one of those extraordinary accidents which take captive as it were the sympathies of men. An attempt, which narrowly failed of success, was made upon his life by a French adventurer, the Marquess de Guiscard, who had been summoned to undergo an examination on the charge of a treasonable correspondence with the French court. The daring nature of the attempt, the dangerous wounds which Harley received, and the courage with which he behaved, worked miracles for his popularity. On his return to the house of commons he was congratulated by the speaker in the name of the whole house; and so strong was the reaction in his favour, that when he brought forward his financial scheme, it was received with almost universal applause, although the main features of it, the establishment of a South sea company, and of lotteries, were strongly and deservedly condemned by some of his colleagues in office. In 1711 he was created a peer by the titles of earl of Oxford and Mortimer, and was shortly afterwards advanced to the post of lord-high-treasurer. His power now seemed to be settled on a firm basis, especially as he saw and acted on the necessity of complying with the favourite project of the tories for the oppression of the dissenters. There are persons who ascribe to Harley great merit for the favour which, in those intolerant times, he showed to the nonconformists; but to such it is a sufficient answer to point to his conduct, in allowing to pass without one word of opposition, nay even with his sanction, the infamous "act for preserving the protestant religion," &c. by which dissenters were to be excluded in future from all civil employments, and no person in office was to be allowed to enter a conventicle under pain of severe penalties. But the great measure by which his administration was distinguished was the peace of Utrecht. We are not disposed to award to Harley the slightest merit for this famous treaty, since we believe his motives in it to have been any thing rather than patriotic; nevertheless, we think that the peace was on the whole decidedly beneficial to this country. It is true that the nation gained nothing to compensate for the danger and expense it had undergone; it had made a costly sacrifice of blood and treasure to no end; and the empty glory of Blenheim and Ramillies was the sole fruit of a ten years' war; but inglorious as it was, and disgraceful to the ministers who secured no more advantageous terms, it was better than continued hostility. By effecting a peace, he completely vanquished the designs of the whigs, and might have consolidated his power, could he have prevented internal dissension. His colleague Bolingbroke was, however, of too high a temper, and too conscious of his own abilities, to endure a superior, and the cabinet became one constant scene of contention. Among other methods which he took to injure his rival, Bolingbroke did not forget the ladder by which the lord-treasurer had risen; and Mrs Masham, destined to be the tool of intriguing statesmen, was ready to forward his views. It is pleasant to find Harley caught in the pit which he had himself dug. Finding that his rival had obtained the confidence of the queen, he