THE SPEECH Of the LATE Lord RUSSEL, To the SHERIFFS: Together with the PAPER deliver'd by him to them, at the Place of Execution, on July 21. 1683.

Mr. SHERIFF,

I Expected the Noise would be such, that I could not be very well heard: I was never fond of much speaking, much less now; Therefore I have set down in this Paper, all that I think fit to leave behind me. God knows how far I was always from De­signs against the King's Person, or of altering the Government; and I still pray for the Pre­servation of both, and of the Protestant Re­ligion.

I am told, that Captain Walcot has said some things concerning my knowledg of the Plot: I know not whether the Report is true, or not; I hope it is not: For to my knowledg, I never saw him, or spake with him in my whole Life; and in the Words of a dying Man, I profess I know of no Plot, ei­ther against the King's Life, or the Govern­ment. But I have now done with this World, and am going to a better. I forgive all the World, and I thank God I die in Charity with all Men; and I wish all sincere Prote­stants may love one another, and not make way for Popery by their Animosities.

The PAPER deliver'd to the SHERIFFS.

I Thank God, I find my self so composed and prepared for Death, and my Thoughts so fixed on another World, that I hope in God, I am now quite weaned from setting my Heart on this. Yet I cannot forbear spending some time now, in setting down in Writing a fuller Account of my Con­dition, to be left behind me, than I'll venture to say at the Place of Execution, in the Noise and Clutter that is like to be there. I bless God heartily for those many Blessings, which he in his infinite Mercy has bestowed upon me, through the whole Course of my Life: That I was born of worthy good Pa­rents, and had the Advantages of a religi­ous Education; which I have often thank'd God very heartily for, and look'd upon as an invaluable Blessing: For even when I minded it least, it still hung about me, and gave me checks, and has now for many Years so influ­enced and possessed me, that I feel the happy Effects of it in this my Extremity, in which I have been so wonderfully (I thank God) supported, that neither my Imprisonment, nor the Fear of Death, have been able to dis­compose me to any degree; but on the con­trary, I have found the Assurance of the Love and Mercy of God, in and through my bles­sed [Page 2]Redeemer, in whom only I trust; and I do not question, but that I am going to par­take of that Fulness of Joy which is in his presence, the hopes whereof does so wonder­fully delight me, that I reckon this as the happiest time of my Life, tho others may look upon it as the saddest.

I have lived, and now die of the Reformed Religion, a true and sincere Protestant, and in the Communion of the Church of England, tho I could never yet comply with, or rise up to all the heights of many People. I wish with all my Soul, all our unhappy Differences were removed, and that all sincere Protestants would so far consider the Danger of Popery, as to lay aside their Heats, and agree against the Common Enemy; and that the Church­men would be less severe, and the Dissenters less scrupulous: For I think Bitterness and Persecution are at all times bad, but much more now.

For Popery, I look on it as an Idolatrous and Bloody Religion; and therefore thought my self bound, in my Station, to do all I could against it. And by that, I foresaw I should procure such great Enemies to my self, and so powerful Ones, that I have been now for some time expecting the worst. And blessed be God, I fall by the Axe; and not by the Fiery Tryal. Yet, whatever Apprehensions I had of Popery, and of my own severe and heavy share I was like to have under it, when it should prevail, I never had a Thought of doing any thing against it basely, or inhu­manly; but what could well consist with the Christian Religion, and the Laws and Liber­ties of this Kingdom. And I thank God, I have examin'd all my Actings in that Matter, with so great Care, that I can appeal to God Almighty, who knows my Heart, that I went on Sincerely, without being moved, either by Passion, By-End, or Ill-Design. I have always loved my Country much more than my Life; and never had any Design of changing the Government, which I value, and look upon as one of the best Governments in the World, and would always have been ready to venture my Life for the preserving of it, and would have suffered any Extremity, rather than have consented to any Design to take away the King's Life: Neither ever had Man the Im­pudence to propose so base and barbarous a thing to me. And I look on it as a very un­happy, and uneasy part of my present Con­dition, That in my Indictment there should be so much as mention of so vile a Fact; tho nothing in the least was said to prove any such Matter; but the contrary, by the Lord How­ard: Neither does any Body, I am confident, believe the least of it. So that I need not, I think, say more.

For the King, I do sincerely pray for him, and wish well to him, and to the Nation, That they may be happy in one another; that he may be indeed the Defender of the Faith; That the Protestant Religion, and the Peace, and Safe­ty of the Kingdom may be preserved, and flou­rish under his Government; and that He in his Person may be happy, both here, and hereafter.

As for the share I had in the Prosecution of the Popish Plot, I take God to Witness, that I proceeded in it in the Sincerity of my Heart; being then really convinced (as I am still) that there was a Conspiracy against the King, the Nation, and the Protestant Religi­on: And I likewise profess, that I never knew any thing, either directly or indirectly, of any Practice with the Witnesses; which I look upon as so horrid a thing, that I could never have endured it. For, I thank God, Falshood and Cruelty were never in my Nature, but always the farthest from it imaginable. I did believe, and do still, that Popery is breaking in upon the Nation; and that those who ad­vance it, will stop at nothing, to carry on their Design: I am heartily sorry that so ma­ny Protestants give their helping Hand to it. But I hope God will preserve the Protestant Religion, and this Nation: tho I am afraid it will fall under very great Tryals, and very sharp Sufferings. And indeed the Impiety, and Profaneness that abounds, and appears so scan­dalously bare-fac'd every where, gives too just reason to fear the worst things which can befal a People. I pray God prevent it, and give those who have shew'd Concern for the Publick Good, and who have appear'd Hearty for the true Interest of the Nation, and the Protestant Religion, Grace to live so, that they may not cast a Reproach on that which they endeavour to advance; which (God knows) has often given me many sad Thoughts. And I hope such of my Friends as may think they are touch'd by this, will not take what I say in ill part, but endeavour to amend their ways, and live suitable to the Rules of the true Reformed Religion; which is the only thing can administer true Comfort at the lat­ter End, and revive a Man when he comes to Dye.

As for my present Condition, I bless God, I have no Repining in my Heart at it. I know for my Sins I have deserved much worse at the Hands of God; So that I cheerfully sub­mit to so small a Punishment, as the being ta­ken off a few Years sooner, and the being made a Spectacle to the World. I do freely forgive all the World, particularly those con­cerned in taking away my Life: and I desire and conjure my Friends to think of no Re­venge, but to submit to the holy Will of God, into whose Hands I resign my self en­tirely.

But to look back a little; I cannot but give some touch about the Bill of Exclusion, and shew the Reasons of my appearing in that Bu­siness; which in short is this: That I thought the Nation was in such danger of Popery, and that the Expectation of a Popish Successor (as I have said in Parliament) put the King's Life likewise in such danger, that I saw no [Page 3]way so effectual to secure both, as such a Bill. As to the Limitations which were proposed, if they were sincerely offered, and had pass'd into a Law, the Duke then would have been excluded from the Power of a King, and the Government quite altered, and little more than the Name of a King left. So I could not see either Sin or Fault in the one, when all People were willing to admit of 'tother; but thought it better to have a King with his Pre­rogative, and the Nation easy and safe under him, than a King without it, which must have bred perpetual Jealousies, and a continual Struggle. All this I say, only to justify my self, and not to inflame others: Though I cannot but think my Earnestness in that mat­ter has had no small Influence in my present Sufferings. But I have now done with this World, and am going to a Kingdom which cannot be moved.

And as to the conspiring to seize the Guards, which is the Crime for which I am condemn­ed, and which was made a constructive Trea­son for taking away the King's Life, to bring it within the Statute of Edw. the 3d. I shall give this true and clear Account. I never was at Mr. Shepheard's with that Com­pany but once, and there was no undertaking then of securing, or seizing the Guards; nor none appointed to view, or examine them: Some Discourse there was of the Feasibleness of it; and several times by accident, in gene­ral Discourse elsewhere, I have heard it men­tion'd, as a thing might easily be done, but never consented to as fit to be done. And I re­member particularly at my Lord Shaftsbury's, there being some general Discourse of this kind, I immediately flew out, and exclaim'd against it, and ask'd, If the thing succeeded, what must be done next but massacring the Guards, and killing them in cold Blood? Which I look'd upon as so detestable a thing, and so like a Popish Practice, that I could not but abhor it. And at the same time the Duke of Monmouth took me by the Hand, and told me very kindly, My Lord, I see you and I are of a Temper; Did you ever hear so horrid a thing? And I must needs do him that Justice to declare, that I never observed in him but an Abhorrence to all base things.

As to my going to Mr. Shepheard's, I went with an Intention to taste Sherry; for he had promised me to reserve for me the next very good Piece he met with, when I went out of Town; and if he recollects, he may remem­ber I ask'd him about it, and he went and fetch'd a Bottle; but when I tasted it, I said 'twas hot in the Mouth; and desired that whenever he met with a choice Piece, he would keep it for me: which he promised. I enlarge the more upon this, because Sir Geo. Jefferies insinuated to the Jury, as if I had made a Story about going thither; but I ne­ver said, that was the only Reason: And I will now truly, and plainly add the rest.

I was the day before this Meeting, come to Town, for two or three days, as I had done once or twice before; having a very near and dear Relation lying in a very lan­guishing and desperate Condition: And the Duke of Monmouth came to me, and told me, He was extreamly glad I was come to Town; for my Lord Shaftsbury, and some hot Men would undo us all: How so, my Lord, I said? Why (answered he) they'll certainly do some disorderly thing or other, if great Care be not taken, and therefore for God's sake use your Endeavours with your Friends to prevent any thing of this kind. He told me, there would be Company at Mr. Shepheard's that Night, and desired me to be at home in the Evening, and he would call me; which he did: And when I came into the Room, I saw Mr. Rumsey by the Chimny; though he swears he came in af­ter; and there were things said by some with much more Heat, than Judgment, which I did sufficiently disapprove, and yet for these things I stand condemned. But I thank God, my part was sincere, and well meant. It is, I know, inferred from hence, and was pressed to me, that I was acquainted with these Heats and ill Designs, and did not dis­cover them. But this is but Misprision of Treason at most. So I dye innocent of the Crime I stand condemn'd for, and I hope no­body will imagine that so mean a Thought could enter into me, as to go about to save my self, by accusing others. The part that some have acted lately of that kind, has not been such as to invite me to love Life at such a rate.

As for the Sentence of Death passed upon me, I cannot but think it a very hard one. For nothing was sworn against me (whether true or false, I will not now examine) but some Discourses about making some Stirs. And this is not levying War against the King, which is Treason by the Statute of Edward the Third, and not the consulting and discoursing about it, which was all that was witnessed against me. But, by a strange Fetch, the Design of seizing the Guards, was construed a Design of killing the King; and so I was in that cast.

And now I have truly and sincerely told what my part was in that, which cannot be more than a bare Misprision; and yet I am condemned as guilty of a Design of killing the King. I pray God lay not this to the charge, neither of the King's Counsel, nor Judges, nor Sheriffs, nor Jury: And for the Witnesses, I pity them, and wish them well. I shall not reckon up the Particulars wherein they did me wrong; I had rather their own Consciences should do that, to which, and the Mercies of God, I leave them. Only I shall averr, that what I said of my not hearing Col. Rumsey deliver any Message from my Lord Shaftsbury, was true; for I always de­tested Lying, tho never so much to my ad­vantage. And I hope none will be so unjust [Page 4]and uncharitable, as to think I would venture on it in these my last Words, for which I am so soon to give an account to the Great God, the Searcher of Hearts, and Judg of all Things.

From the Time of chusing Sheriffs, I con­cluded the Heat in that Matter would pro­duce something of this kind; and I am not much surprized to find it fall upon me. And I wish what is done to me, may put a stop, and satiate some Peoples Revenge, and that no more innocent Blood be shed; for I must, and do still look upon mine as such, since I know I was guilty of no Treason; and therefore I would not betray my Innocence by Flight, of which I do not (I thank God) yet repent, (tho much pressed to it) how fatal soever it may have seem'd to have pro­ved to me; for I look upon my Death in this manner, (I thank God) with other eyes than the World does. I know I said but lit­tle at the Trial, and I suppose it looks more like Innocence than Guilt. I was also advis'd not to confess Matter of Fact plainly, since that must certainly have brought me within the Guilt of Misprision. And being thus re­strained from dealing frankly and openly, I chose rather to say little, than to depart from that Ingenuity, that, by the Grace of God, I had carried along with me in the former parts of my Life, and so could easier be silent, and leave the whole Matter to the Conscience of the Jury, than to make the last and solemnest part of my Life so different from the Course of it, as the using little Tricks and Evasions must have been. Nor did I ever pretend to a great readiness in speaking: I wish those Gentlemen of the Law, who have it, would make more Conscience in the use of it, and not run Men down by Strains and Fetches, impose on easy and willing Juries, to the Ruine of innocent Men: For to kill by Forms, and Subtilties of Law, is the worst sort of Murther. But I wish the Rage of hot Men, and the Partialities of Juries, may be stopp'd with my Blood, which I would offer up with so much the more Joy, if I thought I should be the last were to suffer in such a way.

Since my Sentence, I have had but few Thoughts, but Preparatory ones for Death: Yet the Importunity of my Friends, and par­ticularly of the Best and Dearest Wife in the World, prevailed with me to sign Petitions, and make an Address for my Life: To which I was very averse. For (I thank God) tho in all respects I have lived one of the happiest, and contented'st Men of the World, (for now very near fourteen years) yet I am so willing to leave all, that it was not without Difficul­ty, that I did any thing for the saving of my Life, that was Begging. But I was willing to let my Friends see what Power they had over me, and that I was not Obstinate, nor Sullen, but would do any thing that an honest Man could do, for their Satisfaction. Which was the only Motive that sway'd, or had any weight with me.

And now to sum up all: As I never had any Design against the King's Life, or the Life of any Man whatsoever; so I never was in any Contrivance of altering the Govern­ment. What the Heats, Wickedness, Passi­ons, and Vanities of other Men have occasion­ed, I ought not to be answerable for; nor could I repress them, tho I now suffer for them. But the Will of the Lord be done; into whose Hands I commend my Spirit; and trust that Thou, O most Merciful Father, hast forgiven me all my Transgressions; the Sins of my Youth, and all the Errors of my past Life; and that Thou wilt not lay my secret Sins and Ignorances to my Charge; but wilt graciously support me during that small part of my Time now before me, and assist me in my last Moments, and not leave me then to be disorder'd by Fear, or any other Temptation; but make the Light of thy Countenance to shine upon me, for Thou art my Sun, and my Shield: And as Thou sup­portest me by thy Grace, so I hope thou wilt hereafter Crown me with Glory, and receive me into the Fellowship of Angels, and Saints, in that blessed Inheritance purchased for me by my most merciful Redeemer; who is, I trust, at thy Right Hand, preparing a place for me, and is ready to receive me: Into whose Hands I commend my Spirit.

LONDON: Printed by John Darby, by Direction of the Lady RUSSEL. 1683.

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