« PreviousContinue »
Harcourt, he was advanced to the bishopric of Rochester, with the deanery of Westminster in commendam. It has been said that he had in view the primacy, and that his credit with the queen and ministry was so considerable, and his schemes so well laid, as probably to have carried it upon a vacancy, had not the queen's death, in August, 1714, prevented him. But Warton says, “ It was with difficulty Queen Anne was persuaded to make Atterbury a bishop; which she did at last, on the repeated importunities of Lord Harcourt, who pressed the queen to do it because she had before disappointed him in not placing Sacheverell on the bench. After her decease, Atterbury vehemently urged his friends to proclaim the pretender; and on their refusal, upbraided them for their timidity with many oaths; for he was accustomed to swear on any strong provocation."
In the beginning of the succeeding reign his tide of prosperity began to turn. George I. soon manifested a personal dislike to him, and rejected in a very scornful manner the advances which the bishop seemed at first inclined to make, which the bishop resented by every token of disaffection to the government. During the rebellion in Scotland, when the archbishop of Canterbury drew up a declaration, in name of the bishops, of their abhorrence of that attempt, the bishop of Rochester, and Bishop Smalridge at his instigation, were the only members of the episcopal bench who refused to sign it; and the name of Atterbury in fact occurs in all the strongest protests against the measures of that reign. In 1716 we find him advising Dean Swift on the management of a refractory chapter.
On the 26th of April, 1722, he sustained a severe trial in the loss of his wife, by whom he had four children. On the 24th of August, in the same year, he was apprehended on suspicion of being concerned in a plot in favour of the exiled Stuarts, and committed prisoner to the Tower. In the ensuing March, a bill was brought into the house of commons for inflicting certain pains and penalties on him; but he declined making any appearance in defence against it until it should be sent up to the other house. On the 9th, this bill passed the house of commons; and on the 10th it was sent up to the lords for their concurrence. The bill was read a first time on the 6th of May; and on the Ilth of that month the bishop was allowed to plead his own cause, having been escorted from the Tower for that purpose. His defence was able and eloquent, and he displayed much firmness throughout the whole proceedings. Speaking of the pains and penalties which were to be inflicted against him by the bill, he says, “ The person thus sentenced below to be deprived of all his preferments,—to suffer perpetual exile,--to be rendered incapable of any office or employment, or even of any pardon from the crown,--and with whom no man must hereafter converse, or correspond by letter, message, or otherwise, without being guilty of felony,- is a bishop of this church, and a lord of parliament; the very first instance of a member of this house so treated, so prejudged, so condemned, originally in another; and may it be the last! Though such precedents, once set, seldom stand single; but are apt, even without a blessing, to be fruitful and multiply in after times; a reflection that deserves seriously to be considered by those who, observing that this case has never before in all its circumstances happened, may too easily conclude that it will never happen again !” The
bishop afterwards enters into a particular examination of the nature and circumstances of the evidence against him, and then says:
« Our law has taken care that there should be a more clear and full proof of treason than of any other crime wbatsoever. And reasonable it is, that a crime, attended with the highest penalties, should be made out by the clearest and fullest evidence. And yet here is a charge of high treason brought against me, not only without evidence, but without any evidence at all, that is, any such evidence as the law of the land knows and allows. And what is not evidence at law, (pardon me for what I am going to say,) can never be made such, in order to punish what is past, but by a violation of the law. For the law, which prescribes the nature of the proof required, is as much the law of the land as that which declares the crime; and both must join to convict a man of guilt. And it seems equally unjust to declare any sort of proof legal which was not so before a prosecution commenced for any act done, as it would be to declare the act itself ex post facto to be criminal. Shall I, my lords, be deprived of all that is valuable to an Englishınan (for, in the circumstances to which I am to be reduced, life itself is scarcely valuable,) by such evidence as this ? such evidence as would not be admitted, in any other cause, in any other court; nor allowed, I verily believe, to condemn a Jew in the inquisition of Spain or Portugal ! Shall it be received against me, a bishop of this church, and a member of this house, in a charge of high treason brought in the high court of parliament ? God forbid ! My ruin is not of that moment to any man, or any number of men, as to make it worth their while to violate (or even seem to violate) the constitution in any degree to procure it. In preserving and guarding that against all attempts, the safety and the happiness of every Englishman lies. But when once, by such extraordinary steps as these, we depart from the fixed rules and forms of justice, and try untrodden paths, no inan knows whither they will lead him, or where he shall be able to stop, when pressed by the crowd that follow him. Though I am worthy of no regard, though whatever is done to me may be looked upon as just, yet your lordships will have some regard to your own lasting interests and those of the state, and not introduce into criminal cases a sort of evidence with which our constitution is not acquainted; and which, under the appearance of supporting it at first, may be afterwards made use of (I speak my honest fears) gradually to undermine and destroy it. For God's sake, my lords, lay aside these extraordinary proceedings! Set not these new and dangerous precedents! And I, for my part, will voluntarily and cheerfully go into perpetual exile, and please myself with the thought that I have in some measure preserved the constitution by quitting my country: and I will live, wherever I am, praying for its prosperity, and die with the words of Father Paul in my mouth, which he used of the republic of Venice, Esto perpetua !' The way to perpetuate it is, not to depart from it. Let me depart; but let that continue fixed on the immoveable foundations of law ind justice, and stand for ever.” After a long and warm debate, the bill was passed, on the 16th, by a majority of eighty-three to forty-three; and he was accordingly condemned to the deprivation of all his offices and benefices, and to suffer perpetual exile. How far the bishop was really guilty of treasonable correspondence, has been keenly disputed. It seems, indeed, scarcely probable that a person of his station should have been weak enough seriously to involve himself in such hopeless negotiations ; but, if he was really stimulated to such a measure by his wounded feelings, and perhaps by early prejudices of education, it must also be allowed that the proceedings against him were conducted in a very rancorous spirit.
On the 18th of June, 1723, Bishop Atterbury, accompanied by his favourite daughter, Mrs Morice, embarked on board the Aldborough man-of-war, and landed the Friday following at Calais. On going ashore he was informed that Lord Bolingbroke-who, after the rising of parliament, had received the king's pardon—was arrived at the same place on his return to England, whereupon he is reported to have observed with an air of pleasantry, “ Then I am exchanged." From Calais he went to Brussels, and afterwards to Paris, where he was certainly actively engaged in secret negotiations with the Highlands of Scotland, on behalf of the pretender. The letters which passed on this subject were published at Edinburgh in 1768, and their authenticity has never been called in question. In 1729 he lost his favourite daughter,' an event which deeply afflicted him, and which is supposed to have hastened his own dissolution, which took place on the 13th of February, 1732. His body was brought over to England, and interred in Westminster abbey.
Not long before his death, he published a vindication of himself, Bishop Smalridge, and Dr Aldrich, from a charge which had been brought against them by Mr Oldmixon, of having altered and interpolated the MS. of Lord Clarendon's History of the Rebellion,' previous to its publication. His sermons are extant in four vols. 8vo., the first two having been published by himself. Four Visitation charges,' accompanying his Epistolary correspondence,' were published by Nicholls in five vols. 8vo. Atterbury's literary character bas perhaps been raised above its due level by his intimacy with Pope and the other leading writers of the day; but it is generally acknowledged that his sermons are models in their way, and it may be said that he owed his preferment to the excellent appearance which he always made in the pulpit. “ He has," says a writer in the Tatler, “so particular a regard to his congregation, that he commits to his memory what he has to say to them ; and has so soft and graceful a behaviour, that it must attract your attention. His person, it is to be confessed, is no small recommendation ; but he is to be highly commended for not losing that advantage, and adding to propriety of speech—which might fass the criticism of Longinus—an action which would have been approved by Demosthenes. He never attempts your passions till he has convinced your reason. All the objections which you can form are laid open, and dispersed, before he uses the least vehemence in his sermon; but when he thinks he has your head, he very soon wins your heart, and never pretends to show the beauty of holiness, till he has convinced you of the truth of it.” His letters are light and easy, and furnish better specimens of the epistolary style than those of some of his more gifted correspondents. As a controversialist, he is keen and dexterous, but deals too much in mere satire and invective; his personal conduct was also frequently marked by the rancour of party. Smalridge styles him, “ vir in nullo literarum genere hospes, in plerisque artibus et studiis duo et feliciter exercitatus, in maxime perfectis literarum disciplinis perfectissimus.” Dr Warton says, “ Atterbury was, on the whole, rather a man of ability than a genius. He writes more with elegance and correctness, than with force of thinking or reasoning. His letters to Pope are too much crowded with very trite quotations from the classics. It is said, he either translated, or intended to translate, the Georgics of Virgil, and to write the Life of Cardinal Wolsey,' whom he much resembled. Dr Warburton had a mean opinion of his critical abilities, and of his · Discourse on the lapis of Virgil.' He was thought to be the author of the Life of Waller,' prefixed to the first octavo edition of that poet's works. The turbulent and imperious temper of this haughty prelate were long felt and remembered in the college over which he presided.” Pope has written an epitaph on Bishop Atterbury, in the form of a dialogue between himself and his daughter, who is supposed to be expiring in his arms. It is as follows:
· This lady was married to William Morice, Esq. high-bailiff of Westminster ;
but in 1729, though in an infirm state of health, conceiving an ardent desire to see her father again, she set out when very ill, and performed with great difficulty and pain a journey and voyage from Westminster to Bourdeaux, and thence to Toulouso, where the bishop came to meet her. She died in a few hours after their meeting.
SHE." Yes, we have lived,
;-one pang, and then we part !
HE.-" Dear shade, I will !
BORN A. D. 1650,-DIED A. D. 1726.
JEREMY COLLIER was born in 1650. His father and grandfather were both clergymen in the church of England. He was educated at Cambridge, where he took the degree of B. A. in 1672, and that of M. A. in 1676. Having entered into priest's orders, he obtained the rectory of Compton in Suffolk, which he filled for six years. In 1685, be removed to London, where he held for some time the Gray’s-inn lectureship. He soon after got engaged in a very sharp controversy with Dr Burnet, afterwards bishop of Salisbury.
In December, 1688, Dr Burnet published a smart pamphlet under the title, ' An Inquiry into the present State of Affairs, and in particular whether we owe Allegiance to the King in these circumstances, and whether we are bound to treat with him, and call him back again, or not ?' In this piece, the doctor gives his sentiments very freely as to the behaviour of King James, and the conduct that was to be observed towards him, as the reader will see from the following short quotation. • In all that I have said concerning his desertion, I limit my reflections to his first leaving of Whitehall ; for the accident at Feversham, and
what followed after that, cannot be called a return to his people; and since the seals never appeared, and the king never spake of a parliament, nor altered his measures in any thing, but still prosecuted his first design by his second escape, his deserting is still to be dated from his first going from Whitehall; and he having given that just advantage against himself, which came after all that series of injustice and violence that had gone before it, no man can think that it was not very fitting to carry it as far as it would go, and not to treat him any more upon the foot of acknowledging him king." It was in answer to this treatise, and particularly to the argument insisted upon in this passage, that Mr Collier wrote the piece entitled, “The Desertion discussed, in a Letter to a Country Gentleman,' London, 1688, 4to. He labours in this short pamphlet to show, that the king, before his withdrawing, had sufficient grounds to be apprehensive of danger ; that his leaving any representative behind him was impracticable at that juncture ; and that there were no grounds, from the laws of the realm, to pronounce the throne void from such a retreat.
To this pamphlet of Collier's, an
was written by Edmund Bohun, in which he gives Collier the following character. 6. The author of it is my acquaintance, and a person for whom I have a great esteem, both on the account of his profession, and of his personal worth, learning, and sobriety ; so that I cannot believe he had any ill design, either in the writing, or the publishing of it, his zeal for the church of England's loyalty, and the difficulty, and the unusualness of the present case, having been the occasions, if not the causes, of his mistake; and therefore I will endeavour to show him, and the world, bis error, with as much candour and sweetness, as he himself can wish ; because I have the same design for the main that he had, viz. the honour of the church of England, and the safety of government, and especially our monarchy.” Collier's performance gave such offence, that after the governinent was settled, he was seized and committed to Newgate, where he continued a close prisoner for some months ; but was at length discharged, without being brought to a trial. He still, however, adhered closely to his original principles, in the defence and exposition of which he published a variety of pieces of greater warmth than cogency of argument. His zeal brought him into frequent collision with the government, which, upon the whole, treated him with considerable lenity, considering the extreme unguardedness with which he both wrote and spoke.
Collier, and two other clergymen, of the names of Cook and Snatt, attended Perkins and Friend on the scaffold, and administered absolution to them. This affair made a great noise at the time, and caused the whole three to be outlawed. Bishop Kennet notices it in these terms: “On April the 27th, the lord-chief-justice (Holt) of the king's-bench, did likewise represent to the grand jury, the shameful and pernicious practice of those three absolving priests. Whereupon the jury made a presentment to the court, that Collier, Cook, and Snatt, clerks, did take upon them to pronounce and give absolution to Sir William Perkins, and Sir John Friend, at the time of their execution at Tyburn, immediately before they had severally delivered a paper to the sheriff at Middlesex, wherein they had severally endeavoured to justify the treasons for which they were justly condemned and executed. And that they, the said Collier, Cook, and Snatt, had thereby countenanced the