A LETTER Written by the Bishop of Winchester TO HER HIGHNESS THE Dutchess of York Some few Months before Her DEATH.

LONDON: Printed for Joanna Brome. 1683.

A LETTER TO HER Royal Highness FROM THE BISHOP of WINTON.

MADAM,

THE relation of Friendship I have had to Your Father, (before and ever since You were Born) and the relation of Service I have had unto Your Self (ever since it pleased God to ad­vance you to your present Gran­deur) will not suffer me to be altogether Unconcerned in any Thing, wherein I think Your Highness to be Con­cerned very much; especially in regard of Your Spiri­tual and Everlasting condition, in order whereunto I have had the honour to be more particularly Imploy­ed by You for many Years together.

It was upon this Consideration, Madam, that in Lent last I did presume to acquaint Your Highness with a Re­port I had met with in many Places, and from several [Page 4] Persons, as well within as without the Court; and some of them neither Yours, nor Your Fathers Enemies, but rather very Well-wishers to You both, that Your High­ness was generally suspected to be at least wavering in Your Religion, if not totally alienated in Your heart from it. And of this (besides the Brags of some Pa­pists to that purpose) they alledged, to make the Su­spicion the more probable, two Reasons; of which the One was of Your absenting your self from two or three Monthly Communions together, which you never had done so much as once formerly: the Other, that in matters of Difference both of Opinion, and Practise betwixt Us and the Papists, Your Highness had often, and openly declared Your self in favour of Them a­gainst Us. Which though You might do, (as I told them I suppose you did) by way of Discourse, or for Dispute sake only; yet because it was otherwise Inter­preted and Reported by Those that heard it, and other­wise Believed and Talked of by the Generality of the People, especially in and about London, to the very great Grief and Trouble of those that are indeed Your Friends, and to the very great Joy and Exultation of those that may seem perhaps to be your Friends, but are indeed your Mortal Enemies, and have sufficiently de­clared themselves to be so: I could not chuse but let Your Highness know what I had heard, that I might have from Your own mouth wherewithall to stop Theirs, that were so loudly and so maliciously opened against You. And so I thought I had, when Your Highness was pleased to tell me that the Report I spoke of (whomsoever it came from) was false and ground­less. [Page 5] For as to what was said of your omitting to Receive twice or thrice, though it were true in point of Fact, yet the Conjecture that was made upon it had no Truth in it; for it was (as you said) an Indi­sposition in your Body, and not any Change in your Mind, that kept you from it, as it shall (said you) ap­pear by my receiving of it at Easter, which was then near, and when indeed you did receive it; adding, that you would not receive the Sacrament, no not so much as once, (though it were to save your life) if you were not of that Church wherein you did receive it; so that your receiving with us, (as you said you would) the Easter following, after such and so solemn a Protestation as You then made, I could desire no greater an Evidence for mine own Satisfaction, nor no stronger a Proof to convince others, that Your Highness was still the same you had been always formerly, in point of Religion; and consequently, enough to silence all Discourses, and to stifle all Reports, whereby Men were made to believe or suspect otherwise of You. But when after all my Indeavours to that purpose I found I could not, I began to Consider with my self, and to Enquire of others that were your Friends, what might be the true Cause and Ground of the continuance and increase of those false and malicious Misreports of You, notwithstanding your own open Profession and Pra­ctise to the contrary. And we were all of that Opini­nion, that it was partly the Malice of your Enemies, and partly the Vanity and Artifice of the Romish Party, and Romish Priests themselves.

[Page 6] And first the Malice of your Enemies, who thinking Themselves to be in Danger, as long as You are Safe, and knowing how great an Interest you had gotten in the hearts of the People, by being so glorious a Pro­fessor of the Protestant Religion, and withall so great an Ornament and Support to it, and consequently that it would be a vain and desperate Attempt to indeavour to ruin you in your Person, and in your Relations, before they had first ruin'd you in your Reputation and Esteem with the People: they thought it their surest and their readiest way, and the safest too, to give it out, and to make it to be believed, that whatsoever you had been heretofore, or seemed to be now, you were indeed a Papist, or at least Popishly affected in your heart, and would shortly declare your self to be so. This they at first gave out in Whispers, but such as were to be whisper'd from Ear to Ear, until it became the com­mon Discourse in Coffee Houses, and consequently the publick Talk of all sorts of People in all Places, there­by intending (as much as in them lay) to make as many as were either averse from Popery, or afraid of it, (which I take to be 99 Parts in a hundred of the whole Nation) to be as much your Enemies, as they were themselves, and consequently not to care what should be done to You, or become of You, or of your Children.

Thus the Rebels stole away the hearts of the People from the late King of most blessed Memory, who though he was so sincere, and so zealous a Professor and Asser­tor of the Religion of the Church of England, that at length he became a Martyr for it, yet his Enemies by [Page 7] raising and spreading such malicious and scandalous Reports against him, (as are now raised and dispersed against You) made the credulous People believe, that he was indeed a Papist and intended to bring in Popery: upon which account only they raised many Thousands against him, without whose assistance they could ne­ver have over-power'd and oppressed him as they did. And the Success they had thereby against the Father, incouraged them to make use of the same Engine against his Son, by giving it out that the KING by living so long abroad in Popish Countries was so cor­rupted in his Religion, that if he were suffered to return he would bring home Popery along with him. So that with this groundless Fear, I found many very Considera­ble and very much Interested Persons to be possest, when I was sent into England, about two months before the Kings return; most of which time I spent in undecei­ving all I met with, especially the Heads and Leaders of the Presbyterian and Independent Parties (who seemed to be most afraid of such a Change) by assuring them that those Misreports they had heard of the KING and his Brothers, were nothing else but the malicious Inventions of those, that were either in fact, or in consent, the Murderers of their Father, and consequent­ly irreconcileable and implacable Enemies unto his Children. For (said I) to my certain Knowledg, who was almost always an Eye-witness of their actions, the KING and both his Brothers did not only by their Profession, but by their Practise declare and testi­fie themselves to be true Sons of the Church of England (even in the midst of its Enemies) by coming daily [Page 8] to our Prayers, and weekly to our Sermons, and frequent­ly to our Communnions. Which I do not now Repeat by way of Boasting of what I did; for though it was all I could do, yet perhaps it was less, I am sure it was no more than I am bound to do. But I repeat this, and what I said before of the late King, to let your High­ness see, how dangerous a thing it is for any of the Royal Family to suffer themselves to be traduced to the People by any such Reports and Discourses, as now are made of your Highness: which certainly ought not to be despi­sed or neglected, but carefully and seriously to be en­quir'd into, and speedily to be suppressed by a severe and exemplary Punishment of the Authors and Abet­tors of them.

It was very well and wisely done therefore of our present Sovereign, (remembring his Fathers Fate and the Cause of it) to pass an Act of Parliament presently after his coming home, whereby, the saying that the King is a Papist or that he indeavours to introduce Pope­ry, is made punishable in a very high degree. And it is observable, that this Act wherein this Clause is, is in the Title of it called An Act for the safety and preservation of the KINGS Person and Government; thereby im­plying that the raising and spreading of such Reports, must needs be very Dangerous, and consequently, those that raise or spread them very Criminal; as being in­deed the greatest Enemies both of the King and King­dom: which though it be most true, when such Reports reflect immediately on the KING himself, yet is it in proportion true likewise, when any of the Roy­al Family are concerned in it. So that they are the Kings [Page 9] and Kingdoms Enemies, as well as Yours and your Hus­bands, and your Childrens, that were the Authors, and are the Abettors of what is so generally spoken, and seems to be so generally believed of your Royal High­ness in this particular: to the divulging and the belief whereof, I do verily think that none have been more Active, nor so much Instrumental, as some of the Po­pish Party, and amongst them especially the Popish Priests themselves, and that partly out of Vanity, and partly out of Cunning. For, as some of our Secular Gal­lants do, out of Vanity only, sometimes boast of fa­vours, they have received from such or such Women of known Honour and Virtue, though they never did nor ever durst speak so much as one word to any of Them to any such purpose, so do many of the Clergy Cavaliers of the Church of Rome, as vainly vaunt, how Many and how Great Proselytes they have made, and of how many considerable Persons, of both Sexes, they have gained from our Church unto theirs; which though it be too true in too many, yet as to some whom they most boast of, and would fain have it believed they have prevail'd with, (as particularly and especially with your Royal Highness) I am confident it is but a vain Brag; and yet I do not think 'tis done out of Va­nity only, but out of Artifice and Cunning also; because they have good Reason to hope, that if they can make it to be believed that they have gained but one such Proselyte as your Highness, it would be the most effe­ctual Means, they can make use of, to perswade Others; and consequently the most compendious way they can take in Order to their main End.

[Page 10] In the mean time, it is another notable Effect of their Fineness and Subtilty, that when They them­selves have been the Authors and Divulgers of such a malicious and scandalous Report, and done You all the Mischief they can by it, than if they find Those that are most Concerned in it, to be Ala­rum'd with it, and to resent it with that indigna­tion as so bold and so injurious a Practise ought indeed to be resented withall; then, I say, the next thing they do, is by such Instruments (as they ne­ver want about great Persons upon such Occasions) to perswade the Parties concerned in such Reports, that all the Noise which they hear, and which seems to disquiet them so much, is not from the howl­ing of those Wolves, but from the barking of their own Dogs, who being as they say more afraid than hurt, do by giving too soon and too loud a Warn­ing of a Danger which they think to be greater and nearer than it is, rather increase than lessen the Noise which was made before, and which per­haps would have ceased of it self, if too much Notice had not been taken, as there was of it.

And such an Artifice as this it was to inform your Highness (as some body did,) that this Clamour against your Highness from whomsoever it had its first Rise, it had its Growth from some of our Cler­gy, and particularly from Me for One; as if I had given some body or other some Cause to Believe it, and consequently made it more to be Suspe­cted and Spoken of by others than it was before; which, (as I then said) I hope there is none knows [Page 11] me, can think Me (though I was never so Wicked) to be so very a Fool, as to believe of me. For what End could I have, (especially having had such, and so long a Relation to your Highness, as I had) what End (I say) could I have in making your Highness Believed, or Suspected to be a Papist, unless it were to make my self to be believed to be a Papist also? and consequently to be an old arrant Hypo­crite; seeing I always did, and do, and ever shall, by the Grace of God, profess the contrary, though I were to dye at a stake for so doing. No, no, Maddam! it was neither I, nor, as I verily believe, any of our Priests or Bishops but as I then said, they were some of the Priests of the Church of Rome, that in all probability were both the Authors and Abettors of this Scandal: and that I was told no lon­ger ago than the night before, by a Person of Ho­nour and Title, that the very day before he came to me, he was told by a Romish Priest, that your High­ness was already of their Church, and would very shortly declare your self to be so: Whereunto my Reply was, that although I did believe his Lord­ship, yet I did not, and hoped he would not be­lieve the Priest that told him so; because your Highness had been pleased, (as I told his Lordship) not long before, to give me all the Assurance I could desire to the contrary; with which Answer I sent him away very well satisfied; for he came to Chelsey on purpose to enquire of me, whether what the Priest had newly and confidently told him were true or no. And so did many other of Quality, [Page 12] both Men and Women, to whom I gave the same Answer, and (as I believe) with the same Suc­cess. And this is All that either before or since I have done, to Increase or Countenance that Report.

But (as I presently after informed your Highness your self) it was not, nor ever would be in my power, nor in the power of any, or of all His or Your Highnesses Friends or Servants, to silence this Report, or to hinder the People from giving cre­dit to it; unless You your self would appear in it, and would openly upon all occasions declare your Detestation of it, as of a most false and a most ma­licious Slander, devised and designed by your Ene­mies to do you all the Mischief they could, with­out any ground or colour of ground for it; and that you would not nor could not take them for your Friends, that either did believe it Themselves, or that did not do what they could, that it might not be believed by Others. For without some such Protestation as this (as I then told your Highness) seriously and seasonably Made, and publickly and frequently Repeated by You to such Persons of Qua­lity and Interest of both Sexes, as came daily to wait upon you, I did then, and do still think it almost, if not altogether Impossible to undeceive the Peo­ple, or to make them think otherwise than your Enemies by their malicious Reports have made them to think and to speak of You: though nothing but your own Declaration of your self to be as they re­port you (which I hope I shall never live to see or hear of) shall ever make me believe, that you [Page 13] are not still in point of Religion the same that you were when I had the Honour to wait upon you, and as I am sure You was, when I left you.

And this I am the rather obliged to believe, be­cause the last time I had any discourse with your Highness of things of this nature, you did seriously affirm to me, that never any Priest of the Church of Rome had ever been so bold as to enter into any discourse of Religion with you. Whereupon when I humbly besought your Highness, that if any of them should be so bold at any time afterwards, and you should think fit to hear what they could say either for their own Church, or against ours; your High­ness would be pleased to command them to give it you in Writing, and that you would be pleased to shew me, or my Lord of Oxford, any such Papers or Paper, they should give you to consider of, and to reply to: the which because You were pleased to promise me you would do and have never as yet done, (not to Me I am sure, nor to Him neither, for ought I know) I cannot believe that any thing of that Kind hath been as yet said to you, at least not so, as to make any Impression in you; and much less to gain an absolute Belief from you, that there is no Salvation to be had but in the Church of Rome only; and consequently, that if ever you mean to be saved, you must of necessity quit our Communion, and embrace theirs. I cannot believe (I say) that any such Discourse hath as yet been made to You, because whatsoever is talked of by [Page 14] Others, you have said nothing Your self to me of it, which certainly you would have done, (if there had been any such thing) having obliged your self by promise to do so, and having had several opportu­nities of so doing; especially, when you were plea­sed to honour my House at Farnham with your Pre­sence for so many days together, where and when I did indeed expect You would have said something to me (according to your promise, if there had been cause for it) which because You did not I concluded there had been no such Attempt made; and consequently, that there was no need of my saying any thing to You of it, as if I had doubted whether you had or would keep your Word with me or no.

And truly, Madam, though you had made no such Promise; I cannot but believe that if there had any such Scruple been suggested to you from within, or offer'd to you from without, you would have ac­quainted Me or the Bishop of Oxford, or some other of our Order or Profession with it; especially if the Doubts or Scruples had been such as you your self could not answer. For though God hath given you an extraordinary good Understanding, yet I am sure, you have not so high an Opinion of it, as to conclude, that what You cannot answer, is there­fore Unanswerable in it self; or that it cannot be answered by Others; and particularly by some of Those, whose Profession and Office it is to defend the truth of our Church, and the truth of the Doctrine [Page 15] that is profess'd in it, and taught by it, against all Objections that either by Schismaticks or Hereticks are or can be made against it; so that whatsoever they may whisper in Corners to the contrary, nei­ther the One, nor the Other shall ever be able to prove either that there is any thing necessary to be Believed or Practised for the saving of Souls which we do not teach, or that we do teach any thing that is destructive of Salvation, or which is inconsi­stent with the Rule of Faith, or Holiness of life, which was at first delivered by Christ and his Apostles, and which was afterwards held by the Primitive Fathers, in the most antient and purest Ages of the Church; and consequently whatsoever may be pretended, it never was nor ever can be proved, but that those that live and die in the Profession and Practise of what they are taught to believe and to do by the Doctrine of our Church, must needs be in the right way, which will undoubtedly bring them into Hea­ven, if they continue in it. Whereas if they depart from it, they will be in a worse, and in a much more dangerous condition than if they had never known it.

For although we have so much Charity for some that live and die in the Belief and Practise of some erroneous Doctrines, and of some superstitious Usances of the Church of Rome; supposing they do both the one and the other out of invincible Ignorance, and supposing too, that they would have continued in neither, if they had known or suspected them to be [Page 16] either erroneous or superstitious, and consequently, that they had a preparation of mind to believe, and pra­ctise the contrary Truths, if they had been made known unto them, or rather, if they had not by their false Teachers been concealed from them: and lastly supposing likewise that as they do actually and particularly repent of all their known sins, so they do habitually, or in the general, truly and heartily repent before they die of all their unknown sins also; or of all such sins of theirs which God knows to be sins, though they do not; and consequently of all such Errors and Superstitions as they have ignorantly, and unwittingly, and unwillingly lived in. Although (I say) we have so much Charity for some that have been born, and lived, and died in the Communi­on of the Church of Rome as not to deny upon the aforesaid Suppositions they may be Saved, not Be­cause but Notwithstanding they lived and di­ed in that Church, which is no more than the Cha­rity which upon the same supposition they have for us, or for those that live and die in our Church: yet we have not, nor cannot have the same Hope for Those that having been born and bred in our Church, and sufficiently instructed in the Doctrine of it, do afterwards become Apostates from it, and Proselytes to the Church of Rome, by renouncing those Truths they were taught in the one, and professing those Falsities they are made to believe in the other: for whom (as I said) we have no such hope, nor indeed any hope at all, unless they do actually and [Page 17] particularly repent of this, as well as of all other their known sins, and withall do testifie the truth of that Repentance, by returning again unto Us, and by asking God and the Church forgiveness for the Sin a­gainst the one, and for their Scandal against the other, by their going away from us, if at least they have time and opportunity to do it.

Now this (according to our Opinion) being the difference betwixt those that after the Knowledg and Profession of the Truth, go out from us, and those that would (if they had known the Truth) have come over to us, it is manifest, that the Charity we have for the One, though they live and die in the Church of Rome, can be no Motive or Incourage­ment for those of the Other sort to go and live and die there, no more than it can be any Warrant for a Sound man to go out of an healthy Air and to put himself in a Pest-House, because there is a possi­bility that some one or a few may not die of the Plague there. And this I do the rather Observe, because, from this Charitable opinion of ours to­wards some that live and die in their Communion, they usually infer (as a Preface to their making of Pro­selytes) that it must needs be much better and safer to be of Their Religion than of Ours, because we confess that some may be saved among Then, but they do all deny there is any Salvation to be had amongst Us. Which if it were true (as indeed it is not) they might from thence infer as well that it was better and safer to be of the Donatists Religion, [Page 18] who were condemned Hereticks, than of St. Austins; because that St. Austin did not deny that some among the Donatists could be saved, but all the Donatists did affirm that none that were not, or would not be Dona­tists could be saved. Which is the very same which the Papists affirm now, and for which they may as well now, as the Donatists were then, be called Here­ticks; for excluding as the Donatists did all Christians but themselves, from a capacity or possibility of Salva­tion. And why so? because (forsooth say they) there is no Salvation to be had but in the Catholick Church, and no man is of the Catholick Church, that is not of their Church, because the Catholick Church is their Church, and their Church is the Catholick Church; and conse­quently he that is not of the one, cannot be of the other. And did not the Donatists say so too? and was it not for their so saying that they were pronounced Hereticks? And the Papists may as well and truly say, that because a man is not in Rome, therefore he is not in Italy, or because he is not in London, therefore he is not in England; or because this Part is not a part of that part, therefore it is not a part of the whole, which they must prove before they can make any reasonable man to believe that we cannot be Catholicks, unless we will be Papists, or which is all one that we cannot be Catholicks at all, unless we be Roman Catholicks. Where­as we may be Catholicks, by submitting to the Laws of Christ contained in the Gospel: but we cannot be Ro­man Catholicks, but by submitting to the dictates of the Pope, and Popish Councils, particularly to that of Trent [Page 19] and the Canons thereof, which are many of them no­thing akin to the Canon of the Scriptures. For drink ye all of this, saith the Canon of Scripture, but you shall not drink all of this, saith the Pope and the Canons of his Councils; and many other the like Instances might be given in other particulars.

But I forget what I was a doing, which was not to dispute with Them, 'till they have been so bold as to dispute with You; which I do all this while suppose they have not done yet, because you have not yet gi­ven me any Intimation of it, as I am confident you would have done, not only because you promis'd you would do so, but because without any such Promise, I presume you would have thought your self concerned in point of Prudence and Equity, and of Conscience too, having heard what could be said by any of them to draw you from us, to hear likewise what could be said by some of Us to keep you with us. For to con­clude in favour of one side without hearing of the other, is that which cannot be done either in Equity or Consci­ence, though you your self were to gain never so much by it; whereas in this Case if you should be surpris'd and prevail'd with for want of Advice or Counsel to assist you, you might have lost Your self and your soul by it, which is too pretious a Gage, and cost too dear to be hazarded upon Confidence of Ones strength against such subtil Gamesters as they are. For what would this have been, but to do as Eve did? who entring a­lone into the Lists with the Serpent (though she had much more wit than any of her Sex had since) she [Page 20] was easily foyl'd by him, as perhaps she would not have been, if it had not been in the absence of her Hus­band; or if after she had heard what the Tempter could say, she had afterwards suspended, at least her Consent to the Temptation until she had acquainted the Man with it, and heard what he was able to reply to it; which because (relying too much upon her own Judg­ment) she neglected to do, we see she did as much as in her lay to undo, and undo for ever, Herself and her Husband, and all their Posterity by the loss of all their Enjoyments for the present, and of all their Hopes for the future also. so rash and so dangerous a thing it is for any (though of never so great a Sufficiency) to rely too much upon Themselves, when all their Concerns, both here and hereafter, are at stake.

And therefore, Madam! being so prudent a Person as you are, and knowing so well as you do, how great a Hazard you may run of losing all that is or ought to be Dear to you, I am confident, you will not suffer your self to be disputed out of your Religion for want of Se­conds to assist you; which seeing you have not hitherto called for, or made use of, I do and must concluded, that hitherto the Adversaries of our Church have either made no Attempt upon you, or have been rejected with Indignation by you. And in this Belief I am more and more confirm'd, because you still joyn with us in the Prayers of the Church, as having them daily by your own Appointment read in your Hearing; which though Some perhaps of those that are departed from Us with their hearts, may be content to do, in Compliance [Page 21] with some present worldly Interest; yet I am sure you cannot dispense with Your self, nor suffer Your self to be dispensed with, in any thing of that nature; because You your self have told me more than once (even since this false Report hath been rais'd of you) that you would not do any thing, whereby you might seem to be of a Church, or of a Religion which you are not of indeed; no, not for any worldly Consideration what­soever. Which is indeed such an Ingenuity as well be­comes a Christian, especially of your Quality, and such as gives me an Assurance, that You are still ours; and that you will continue to be so, until You your self by your Words or Actions shall declare the contrary, which I hope you never will, and I am sure you never can with a good Conscience, until you have heard and considered all that can be said on both sides. For if your should do otherwise, it will never be believed that your leaving of Our Church, wherein you were born and bred, to go to Theirs, is only out of love to the Truth; or because They, and not We, are in the right way to Heaven; (of which without hearing what we can say for our way, and against theirs, it is Impossible for you to judg) but from some Byas or by-end from without; which because I know it is that which you abhor should be thought or suspected of you, therefore (as I have said often already) I will not, I cannot be­lieve that you have or ever will make any such Change without hearing what we have to say against it; be­cause that will be not only an Argument, but almost an Evidence that it is from some other Motive, rather [Page 22] than Conscience, because you did not all you might and ought in Conscience to have done, to warrant such a Change before you made it; nay, it will be thought, and said, You were afraid to hear what could be said against it, lest thereby you might be diverted from it.

Which Consideration I beseech you to remember, whensoever there shall be, (though I hope there never will be) an Occasion to make use of it; yet, in the mean time, there being no such Change made yet, I humbly conceive your Highness is obliged in Conscience as well as in Prudence to make some such Declaration (as I before spake of) namely, that the Report of your be­ing changed in your Religion, or that you intend any such Change, or are at all inclined to it, is false and scandalous, devised and published by the Malice of your Enemies to make you lose the Affections of your Friends, and to alienate the hearts of the People from You and from your Children: and that You never did nor ever will give any just Cause for the Belief of it.

Some such Declaration I say (as I humbly conceive) your Highness is bound in conscience, as well as in prudence to make, to prevent such Mischiefs as the Continuance and Increase and Belief of this odious Report may bring upon You, and upon all your Relations. For al­though that be true which you are wont to say, that no worldly, either Advantage or Prejudice, is to be consi­dered, when the gaining of the One, or the avoiding of the Other comes into Competition with the hazard­ing or securing of our spiritual and everlasting Inte­rest, of our Souls; and consequently, that if you were [Page 23] Convinced there were no Salvation to be had but in the Church of Rome, no Consideration either of Loss or of Danger here in this World you might incur by it, should keep you from it: yet when you are not so perswaded, (as I do all this while suppose You are not) then I hope you may and ought to do what you can, that you may not be believed or suspected to be so; especially if it being but suspected to be so, will in all probability do You and all that relate to you every whit as much Mischief in the opinion of the People, as if really and indeed you were so; wherewithall I will conclude. Humbly begging your Highnesses pardon, for having given you so great a Trouble, the rather because con­sidering my great Age, and consequently my near ap­proaching End, it may be (besides my Prayers) the last Service that may or can be done by

Your Highnesses most humble and faithful Servant,
GEOR. WINTON.
Jan. 24. 1670.
FINIS.

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