THE CONDUCT Of some PEOPLE, ABOUT Pleading Guilty. With some REASONS Why it was not thought proper to shew MERCY to some who desir'd it.

LONDON Printed: And Sold by J. Baker, at the Black-Boy in Pater-Noster-Row. 1716. [Price Six-Pence.]

THE CONDUCT Of some People, about Pleading Guilty.

WHEN the House of Commons first exhibited Impeachments against the Seven Lords taken at the Defeat of the Rebels at Preston, and sent the Articles against them up to the House of Lords, the Lords, according to the usual Course of Proceedings in such Cases, appointed the Impeach'd Lords to attend, and allow'd them Time to give in their Answer.

While this Part was depending, it was the common Discourse of the Town, That giving them Time was but a piece of needless Formality, a kind of Banter upon their Circumstances, a Thing of no signification, that indeed it gain'd them a few Days to Live, and to prepare for another World, which was the only Thing they ought to have in their View, [Page 4] but that it was of no other effect, For what can they Plead? said the People, who spoke of those Things with any Judgment, Were not they taken in Arms? Were they not in open Rebelion, and made Prisoners in the Action, Surrendered at Discretion to our Generalls, and brought immediately bither from the very Place of Battle? Can such Men bring any Plea? What can they have to say?

Tho' this was the Discourse without Doors, yet with the Persons themselves there was other Thoughts; and particu­larly with their Friends; and the De­bates that happened upon this Subject, as well among themselves as among other People, may be very Useful for us to know something of, as well to let us in­to the Secret History of their Conduct, as to inform us who were in their Interest, and upon what Foot their Friends En­deavour'd to Save them.

I believe no Man will suppose, that Gentlemen of such Quallity as these, were without some Friends, who, in their present Extremity, would Interest themselves for them, and who Apply'd, with the uttermost Diligence, to gain to them the Favour of such other Persons, as might be supposed, on any Account whatever, to be capable of Serving them.

[Page 5] It was easie to see who would Befriend them of Course; (viz.) Those engaged by Party, who were on their Side by In­clination, these were not only to be de­pended upon for their Votes in favour of the Gentlemen in Distress, but to be moved to use their Interest for the bring­ing others, of a Second Party, who were something Indifferent, over to the same Sentiment. There was a Third Party, from whom nothing was Expected, and therefore to such little Application was to be made, but they were, if possible, to be Out-Number'd.

The space the Criminal Gentlemen had between their Commitment to the Tower, and the Day of their Impeach­ment, was the Time to be employ'd to form those Interests, and to come to an Understanding about the Strength of their Friends; and as there were no Mo­ments to be lost, so neither was it ill Employ'd; they took care to Sollicit, Treat with, and Engage every Man, that by any possible Methods they could come at, to act in their Interest, in so Critical a Juncture, and to do their Best for them, if possible to avert the Stroke of Justice at last; and for this no Body can blame them. It was not many Days before the Impeachments, that we were told, with [Page 6] great Assurance, That the Lords in the Tower had made such an Interest, that they were under no apprehensions of Dying at all, and that it only remain'd, to Determine what Method should be taken, to make the Mercy they were to receive appear Rational in those that Granted it, and be Satisfactory to the Nation.

And if it is True, that they had, upon those Applications, some private Assu­rance given them, That by the strength of their Interest among the Nobility, the whole House of Lords would be brought to Address His Majesty to shew them Mercy, who can blame them for promi­sing themselves their Lives, especially considering the native Clemency of His Majesty, and the Inclination all good Kings have to spare the Blood of their People.

But in all these Measures, there has been so much Intriegue, such Nicety of Management, such Subtilty of Applica­tion, and such Industry used on one Hand, and such Court Fineness, such discovery of Persons and Principles on the other, that it must be very Diver­ting, as well as Improving, to give some Account of it to the World.

The Measures, as I have said, having [Page 7] been taken to form their Interest, and those Measures having succeeded, even beyond their Expectation, the first thing to be observ'd is, How agreeable to all good Men, and especially to Men of Ho­nour and Quality, it is to be apply'd to for shewing Mercy to Men in Distress, in a Court so Gallant, so Soft, so Hu­mane, I had almost said so Christian, as that of this Kingdom, what wonder is it, that an humble Application, by Persons of Honour under Misfortunes, found powerful Advocates, and made sensible Impressions upon the Minds of some Great Persons in the Kingdom.

Clemency and Charity are the Glory, the one of Nobility, the other of Chri­stianity, and when these are the power­ful Arguments to be used, when these are the Keys, how easy is it to Unlock the Breasts of such Persons who are fill'd with Principles of Honour and Christia­nity? I had much rather give these for the Reasons, why the Applications of the Distressed Lords gain'd them so easie, and so general an access to the Hearts of some, whose Posts and Trusts, perhaps, might seem to have Engaged them ano­ther way; and of whom it might have been expected, that their Concern for the Safety and Peace of their Royal [Page 8] Master, the Honour of His Government, and the Good of their Country, should have open'd their Eyes to the necessity of Publick Justice at that Time, than have it to say of any, That it rather opened their Ears to the Petitions of those who had put their Hands to the horrid Work, of their Country's De­struction, and made them Intercessors for those who had rais'd a Civil War in its Bowells, striking at the Person and Family of our Sovereign, the Founda­tion of the Protestant Interest, and at the very Root of the Constitution.

I am very loth also to entertain an Opinion so gross in it self, and so remote from Charity, which nevertheless some have started, (viz.) That it was listen­ing to a frailer part of their Inclination, which brought some Gentlemen into this Matter: That all the Clemency of their Tempers, and Softness of their Dis­positions, would not have prevail'd over their Sense of Duty, if there had not been more glittering Motives, whose Power they had not self-denying Vertue enough to resist; Tho' if this was their Temptation, I must still acquit the Ag­gressors, I mean the Lords in the Tower; for who, in their Circumstances, would have spar'd their Ammunition where [Page 9] knew the Fort would be reduc'd by Un­dermining, without the hazard of Stor­ming.

And as on the one Hand I believe, at least hope, this is no more than a Slan­der upon the Gentlemen, of whom it is spoken, so, I dare say, the Reasons some People have to suggest such a thing, e­ven to themselves, are rather taken from what they have formerly heard, of the influence MONEY has had upon those Persons in Times past, to lead them a­gainst Principle, than from any real In­telligence they have now had of the Fact.

It may be True, that the Suspicion is encreased by the Knowledge the World has had of the contrary Disposition of the Persons spoken of in Days of old, (viz.) How, in former Times, when the ad­ministration of Publick Affairs has been in some of their Hands, they have been found as Deaf to the Importunities of the Miserable, as Inexorable to suppli­cating Vertue, and distress'd Innocence, as any Asian Mute, commission'd to the excercise of the Bow-String: How they have been Eminent for vindictive Tem­pers, and the Operations of the Spleen, as any that have since acted their Parts; and therefore it has been said, That it must be from some other Principle than that of Humanity and Compassion, that [Page 10] those Persons, however Great, should be prevail'd with to plead for Clemency and Mercy to Men under the worst of Circumstances, and Sentenc'd for Crimes which must necessarily, not only taint their Honour and Families who are Guilty, but must cast some just Re­proach upon those who Interest them­selves to Save them. But as those are but Suggestions, I say no more of them.

But to return to the Fact, as it stands Historically in our view: Certain it is, if Fame lye not, That the powerful Ap­plications for Mercy for these Men, whether by the influence of the Ladies Tears, the sense of the Misfortunes of so many Persons of Quality, or any meaner Importunities, I cannot say, had found Means to make Impressions upon some nearer the Throne than they them­selves had, I believe, any hopes of; and as this was an agreeable Surpise to the Unfortunate Gentlemen, so we shall see the less Reason to wonder at their fu­ture Conduct on that Account, and this is partly the Reason why I have entered into this Part at the Beginning of this Tract.

Nothing is more Certain, than that before this the Lords seeing little room to expect any Interest could be made for their Escape, had entertain'd serious Thoughts of Dying, and were rather [Page 11] something Disconcerted, than otherwise Determined, as to what Answer they should give to the Impeachments which were brought against them.

Indeed, as some of them Express'd it, I mean one already Executed, they hard­ly expected the House of Commons would have given themselves the trou­ble of Impeachments, in a Case which was so plain, and requir'd so little Cere­mony, but rather have let the Law take its ordinary Course, by Indictment and Plea, and have left them to the House of Peers, who must necessarily have Con­demn'd them.

It has been said also, by some of their Party, That the same Gentlemen had resolv'd to act what they call the Heroe, (viz.) To have given the Fact in Evi­dence at their Tryal, and justify'd the Rebellion upon Principles of Jacobitism; the Foundations of which, like Blasphe­mous Tenets in Religious Disputes, are not fit to be Mentioned. That this had been to have acted the Desperadoe, and to have cast themselves entirely away beyond the reach of Mercy, and out of the Power of Intercessors; nay, even out of the Rational Power of the Royal Clemency itself, is most certain; how it could Denominate them Heroes would have been their business to shew, I must acknowledge I do not see any thing of that kind in it.

[Page 12] However, we found this Notion was so revitted in the Mind of one Person, if of no other of them, that nothing could, for some time, divert his Thoughts from it; and we have divers Accounts of his Conduct in that Part. How he talk'd of Death, a la Cavalier: How he made the Scaffold appear to his Fancy, no more than a Scene in a Tragedy, which had nothing in it but a Formality, to make his passing off from the World a little Judicial. How he thought that Death there, could have no worse a Face than it had in the Streets of Preston, where he had look'd on its Phyz with very little Apprehension, and was not at all afraid to see it again.

As these were the Views which for some time these Gentlemen had, so nei­ther were they easy to be brought to en­tertain other Notions; Indeed when the Time was Limited, that they were Obli­ged to give in some Plea or other, and that they began to look on the Thing with a nearer, and, perhaps, a more seri­ous View, they appear'd not all alike Determind'd; but all the Consequence of this was, That it only made them a little more encliin'd to listen to the Advice of their Council and Friends, and to Act by such Measures as Reason, and the Nature of their Circumstances call'd for.

This ended in their Pleading Guilty [Page 13] to the Impeachment, and throwing them­selves, in the most Moving and Submi­sive Manner possible, upon the King's Mercy, imploring the Intercession of their Peers, who were their Judges, and of the Commons, who were their Accusers, a thing which, as is said, One of those now gone said, Was much more difficult to do, than TO DIE.

I have heard many wise and good Men say, That let the Ends, which the said Gentlemen proposed to themselves in it, be what they would, that Plea was the only Step they could have taken, entire­ly to give Peace to their own Minds, and have good Men believe they were resto­red to an honest and just Principle; The First, because by it they had tryed the only Step left them to save their Lives, and which they could not possible be ful­ly satisfy'd in omitting; and the Last, because the Contrary had been a justify­ing and defending the Crime of Rebellion, which on no just Principle could be de­fended; and, as I am well Informed, these Arguments were pressed upon them with great Earnestness by their Friends, so I have been told also, That the first, especially, made a great impression upon them, in the Case I speak of.

But there was a yet more powerful Argument to induce them to this Plea, and this is said to be represented to them [Page 14] by the Agents they had employ'd as be­fore, to obtain the Intercession and Fa­vour of the Great Persons, of which I mentioned something at first; and this contains the best Piece of Secret History, which, perhaps, has come to light in all this Affair.

Suppose A. B. to be a Lady deeply in­terested in the Case before us, and ap­plying to one N. O. for his Interest and Favour in Behalf of the Condemn'd Lords, while other Friends are solliciting as hard with other Great Persons; let us digest their Discourse as near as we can to the real Dialogue that past between them, allowing that we can relate no more than Memory and our faithful In­telligence could convey.

Note. Suppose the Balm infused by other means to soften [...]oding Passions, and prevent Fermentation of natural morese Humour. A. B. A distress'd Lady, introduc'd by a Favourite, throws her self at the Feet of N. O. with abun­dance of Tears, and in a short Address, bespeaks him thus:

My Lord, (said she) I come to implore your Pity to a Number of Distress'd, but Noble Persons, and particularly to my Lord [...]: they are well assur'd of the powerful Influences your Lordship has as well in the Councils of [...] as in the P [...], and without your Lordship's Assistance they are inevitably lost.

[Page 15] N. O. Madam, I am very sorry it is so little in my Power to help your Lord [...]; but I have been already spoken to, I suppose at your Ladyship's Request, by my Lord [...], and I bid him assure you, that if my Lord D [...] will be advised, I shall do all for him that lies in my Power.

A. B. My Lord [...], As these di­stress'd Prisoners have no Friend so able to advise them as your Lordship, so you may be assured they will put their Lives and Honour into your Lordship's Hand, and be guided entirely by your Advice.

N. O. Why, Madam, I am told they make a Difficulty of Pleading Guilty to the Impeachments; I do not see how it is possible any one can serve them, if they de­cline Pleading Guilty.

A. B. My Lord [...], I cannot an­swer that Particular farther than this; It is, no doubt, hard to them to plead Guilty, especially to all the Enlargements and Aggravations in the Impeachments, tho' they are otherwise in no Condition to repell the Evidence.

N. O. But they may plead Guilty in General Terms; they acknowledge they were in Arms, marched so and so, and were taken in Fight, as the Impeachment ex­presses it; this they cannot deny; and Pleading Guilty then is no more than Con­fessing what it is to no Purpose to deny.

A. B. But, my Lord, Pleading Guilty, [Page 16] is owning, That taking Arms for King James is Rebellion.

N. O. Look you, Madam, I am as much for King Ja [...] as my present Cir­cumstances will allow; but in this Case it is impossible to help them without it. But, Madam, my Lord Duke ofLook you, Madam, I am as much for King Ja [...] has ap­pointed to meet me this Evening about this Affair: Your Ladyship may depend upon it, that we will consider of the best Method to serve my Lord [...], and we hope he will not scruple any thing that we shall convince his Lordship is for his In­terest.

A. B. I humbly thank your Lordship; I know my Lord depends entirely upon your Assistance, and is wholly given up to your Measures.

My Lady returns to the Tower, and finds there another Person, who we shall know by the Letters L. R. who had found Means to visit the Lord D [...] in his Imprisonment.

This Person, it seems, had likewise been with some Great Lords on the same Errand that my Lady had been with N. O. and having, as we are inform'd, re­ceiv'd much the same Answer, was Ex­postulating with my Lord D [...] about Pleading Guilty, which the other strenu­ously opposed.

My Lord, (says L. R.) how is it possible any Peer can serve you, if you have not [Page 17] first acknowledg'd the Fact? Pardon cra­ved implies Guilt confess'd: No Man can ask Mercy for you, while you stand upon your Justification. My Lord D [...] seem'd a little moved at that Proposal, and with some Warmth replyed, But, my Lord, do you consider the very Plea is a Renouncing my Sovereign: How can a Man of Honour stoop to that? Nay, how can any Man of Honour offer such a Thing to us? (says L. R.) My Lord, your Lordship knows that N. O. was always a sincere Friend to the Chevalier; he bid me assure you that he is still so in his Heart: You know he gave innumerable Evidences of it formerly, in the Time of his Admini­stration; and if he has seemingly appear'd in another Interest now for some Time, you know well the Motives inducing, and also that it is with due Reserves, and that he waits only an Occasion to declare himself; and you must be content, if you will save your Life, my Lord, now you are in their Power, to do as my Lord N. O. does, viz. Double and turn, and shew the smooth Face, or the rough, as Occasion offers, and I confess I do not see why you should make it a Difficulty.

My Lord D [...], as if he was sur­priz'd, return'd: No Difficulty, my Lord! Do you consider that it is Perjury in the Abstract; and tho' I am a Catholick, I have no Dispensation for breaking lawful [Page 18] Oaths; I ought to die, rather than enter­tain a Thought of it. To this, L. R. re­turn'd coldly, I am sorry for it, my Lord; it is certain, if you cannot do this Part, you must dye, there is no Man living can interpose for you.

It seems, however, that Lord D [...] was not willing either to leave the Point, or to leave off the Discourse, and there­fore still held him in Suspence; My Lord, (says he) you may be sure I am wil­ling to save my Life, but can I be guilty of Perjury? How can N. O. offer such a Thing to me?

L. R. told him, He could not say how far these Things might deserve the Name of Perjury, and brought in this famous Argument; Do not we that are Protest­ants, says he, as firmly adhere to the In­terest of King J [...] as any of you, and yet you see we are oblig'd to take all the Oaths, Abjurations, Associations, &c. that they put upon us.

Lord D [...] told him gravely, He could not enter into that Case: I examine no Man's Principles, said he, but my own I have always acted upon an honourable Foot hitherto; and I think a Man of Ho­nour can no more renounce his King than his God.

L. R. seem'd at a full Stop at this, as indeed any Protestant might well be, and as if the Case was at a Point, reply'd, [Page 19] That he could not enter into a Dispute about Opinions, and Principles: But, says he, if this cannot be, then I beg your Lordship will tell me if I can serve you any other way.

My Lord D [...] not willing still to to quit the Discourse, replied with this Question: Why may not the Lords in­terpose for Mercy to us after a Tryal, if we are found Guilty?

This discovered his full Design: But L. R. open'd the Case more fully to his Satisfaction, as follows: Says he, All that are your Friends now, will, no doubt, do so, my Lord, but the Business lies another Way: It must not be a few Friends, but a Majority of the House that can do you any Service; and do you not think there will be a manifest Difference in the Inclination of the Peers to you, from the Influence of your Conduct, and as you behave well or ill?

Lord D [...] seem'd not to understand him, and desir'd him to explain himself.

Why, suppose, (says L. R.) on one Hand you plead Not Guilty, justify your selves from your Loyalty, as you call it, to the Chevalier, which, by Consequence, must be in the highest manner provoking to the present Government, as it insists upon the Title of their Enemy, and pretends to dis­own the Settlement here: Do you think, my Lord, said he, as many will incline to [Page 20] Compassion, and as many will think you merit to be spar'd, as will be mov'd on the other Hand to a generous Clemency, when they see so many unhappy Noblemen throw­ing themselves entirely at their Feet, and Imploring their Intercession for unfortunate Men, who cry for Mercy. Pray consider this Case sedately, my Lord.

Perhaps indeed (says my Lord) there may be some Difference in that.

A great deal, my Lord, (continued L. R.) and there are a great many Reasons for it: We are to work upon Humane Na­ture in this Case, not upon Party Princi­ples: If the House were to go by Party, you are lost: You must not think that all those who may be brought to pity you, are of your Side; if they were, it were no matter how you pleaded: But we are to move the Compassions of Men to your Per­sons, who are Enemies to your Cause; and with such differing Measures must be ta­ken: In a Word, my Lord, I must own, it is my Opinion that no other way can save you, act as you think fit.

My Lord D [...], as if he seem'd to yield, and that he was convinc'd by these Reasonings, return'd thus: Well, and if I do plead Guilty, what will he do for me? And what must I do else?

Why, my Lord, (said L. R.) if you plead Guilty, you first cast your self upon the Mercy of the King, then you must make a [Page 21] short handsome Application to the Peers to intercede with his Majesty for his Pardon.

And must I call him King and Majesty? (says L. D.)

It must be so, my Lord, (says L. R.) there can be no putting in a Word for you, unless you think fit to come this length; and your Lordship knows it to be so as well as I; the Nature of the Thing re­quires it. To which Lord D [...]seem­ing moved again, return'd smartly: And will not your Lordship say your self that I deserve more to dye than a Common Thief, If I can stoop to such mean Things to save my Life.

Says L. R. I see, my Lord, the Nicety of Honour will be your Destruction; I am sorry for your own Part, and yet more sor­ry for the Injury such an Obstinacy will be to the rest of the Noble Lords who are your Fellow-Prisoners, who, I fear, will fare the worse for it.

You stab me with that Expression; re­ply'd my Lord D. rather than they shall suffer by me, I'll comply with any Thing, tho' I would not for any Danger of my own.

L. R. told him, He knew that Thought would touch his tender Part; that it was indeed a Reflection which any Per­son of Honour would immediately make; that it was hard to let our Opiniatre en­danger the Lives, Honours, and Estates of our Friends.

[Page 22] To this, Lord D. as if yielding, said little, but enquired into the farther Cir­cumstances of the Proposal. And, says he, if we do agree to prevaricate, and, merely to save our Lives, take this disho­nourable Step, for such we must esteem it, as we shall speak against the Testimony of our own Hearts when we do it, I say, when we do thus, what then?

Says L. R. Then, my Lord, the Persons we have been with, viz. N. O. B. and N. and several other Persons of Honour, of the first Magnitude, have promised to bestir themselves.

But what is it they can do? says L. D. still unsatisfy'd.

Rather, my Lord, says the other, what is it they cannot do?

But may we not have some View of their Measures? says L. D.

Yes, yes, my Lord; (says L. R.) you know they have a Right to advise the King; and if they espouse your Interest, you will find, perhaps, they may be brought to address the King in Parliament to par­don you, which if you can obtain, your Bu­siness is over, for you hardly ever found an Example where any Person who the Parliament address'd to have spared, was Executed, altho the Crime might be equal, if not superior.

Indeed, says L. D. the Design seems well laid; an Address will certainly do our [Page 23] Business: But must we not apply to the House of Commons too?

L. R. return'd; You may do so, if you please; but we cannot answer for them in this Case; for tho' the House of Commons do often make, or pass Acts of Oblivion, yet in Cases thus particular, we do not find often that the House relents. The Com­mons are the Accusers, and are justly in­cens'd at the Rebellion; and they cannot so reasonably concern themselves to inter­pose between the King and those that have offended; but if the Lords do it, we doubt not but it will be sufficient in this Case, and we hope the Commons may be brought not to oppose it, if they cannot be brought to address in your Favour.

Says L. D. Well then, we must for once stoop to be Ro [...]s, and deny our Prince and our Principle to save our Lives; but my Heart mis-gives, and tells me, That It will never do; Heaven cannot approve it, and will not bless it; and take it from me, when we have done so, it will not thrive, and it will be the only Sin of my Life I shall have to make Confession of upon the Scaffold, for thither I shall come, and its better to come there gallantly, and with the clear Soul of a Man of Honour, than basely loaded with Guilt and Confusion, and bearing Testimony against our selves, that we have acted dishonourably to save our Lives, and not saved them neither.

[Page 24] He spoke this with great Earnestness, and almost with Tears standing in his Eyes, and his Friend could not but per­ceive it, which made him very passionate­ly embrace him, telling him, He saw with what Reluctance he did it, and if it had been in his Power to have serv'd him any other Way, he would rather have died than have proposed it to him.

By such Arguments as these, and by the Sollicitations of those Friends who stirr'd for them, who thought it neces­sary for their Safety, the Lord D [...], is said, to be prevail'd upon to go into those Measures which he publickly Repented of, when he found them ineffectual.

How far both they, and their Friends also, were mistaken in their Measures, we shall take Notice of by and by.

It is necessary to Observe here, That after these Things were over, and the Prisoners had Pleaded Guilty, spoken very handsomely, and Submitted in the lowest Manner to the Peers, begging their Lordships to Interpose with His Majesty for Mercy to them, as by their Speeches, which are made publick, and to which I refer, may be seen; I say after this was over, then the Moments seem'd to be come, in which the Promises of N. O. and other their Friends, were, if ever, to be performed.

The Ladies, with all the most Moving [Page 25] and Passionate Representations, acted their Part to perfection: None can say, They did not do their Duty to the utmost; the Pow­erful Interest they made among all the Men of Influence, shew'd they were not wanting: All that Prayers and Tears could do, was done without Doors; at length the Petition was brought into the House of Lords, and being Receiv'd, it introduced a Debate.

I am not allow'd to take notice of any Thing that was Transacted within the House, other than by Generals, to wit, That their Friends did all that could be ex­pected of them, and that it was possible to do; and so far has Clemency, and a Merci­ful Disposition, the ascendant over the No­ble Persons who compose that Illustrious Bo­dy, that those Lords who spoke in Favour of the Condemn'd Lords, had great Advan­tages, few caring to interpose, to put a stop to the Royal Goodness, or obstruct the Channel of Mercy to the Miserable.

This, we may suppose, favour'd their Petition; and the Lords agreed to address his Majesty for Mercy, with such a Reserve to his Majesty's Pleasure and their Conduct, as might tell them however, that there was yet something farther to be look'd for from them, if they expected Mercy: How this was express'd, is to be seen in the Ad­dress, to which we refer.

The Condemn'd Lords, it was said, did [Page 26] not receive the News of this Address with that Pleasure that their Friends, who saw not so far into it as some of them did, expe­cted; which, perhaps, was the Reason why one said of them too warmly, That they were not grateful to their Friends.

Nor did they receive it all alike, some who penetrated into Things farther than others, seeing, perhaps, Room for their De­liverance in it, and others just the contrary; so that while this Address put some of them in Hopes that they might Deserve Mercy, and consequently have room to ex­pect it, others of them saw room only to despair this Deserving Mercy, being a Term which they had different Notions of from other Men.

It began now to appear to them, that they were deceived, when they thought that The Bitterness of Death was past; That the Peers, tho' they were prevail'd with to har­bour some merciful Dispositions towards them, were very far from offering to im­pose upon the Government, or to press for Mercy, but on such express Terms as his Majesty should find to be for the Honour of his Government, and the Safety of his Kingdom: So that it remain'd for these Gentlemen to convince his Majesty, that they were proper Objects of Mercy, before they could comfort themselves much from what was past.

[Page 27] This Part leads us to the Second Part of our Work, viz. To mention something of the Reasons, so far as we have got Insight into that Matter Without-Doors, Why the King, tho' mercifully inclin'd, and hear­tily sorry for the Necessity which his Majesty finds himself under to give the publick Ju­stice so much Vent, yet could not see it reaso­nable to extend that Mercy which was so earnestly sollicited for to that particular Person, of whom these Papers may seem to speak.

The Speech, or Paper, left behind by the Lord Der [...]r, tho' it does not speak it in Words, yet intimates very plainly, That there has been a long Train of Treasons; a secret Management of Parties and Per­sons in the Preparing the late Rebellion, and Concerting Measures for it; and that there appeared a great Desire in some Peo­ple to have it out; and, no doubt, it is the true Interest of the present Govern­ment to discover those Things; and the Discovery whereof might indeed contribute to the Preventing more of these unhappy Gentlemen coming into like Circumstan­ces with these, and so, in Effect, be of Ser­vice to their Friends: That these Gentle­men were privy to, and partly in those Treasons, there is little Reason to question; what else can be the Meaning of the Words in the Lord Der [...] Speech, that Some [Page 28] Means have been proposed to me for Saving my Life, which I look'd on as inconsistent with Honour and Conscience, and therefore I rejected them. It is evident then that he was able to have complyed with the means proposed, otherwise it would have been a Prevarication to say, That Therefore he re­jected them; if he had been uncapable to have complyed, if he had not been in the said Train of Treasons, if he had not been able to make Discoveries, he could with more Truth, and much more to his own Vindication, have said, that it was not in his Power, and that therefore those Propo­sals were ineffectual to him.

But while, on the other Hand, he re­jected the Proposal that was made to him, by which his Life might have been sa­ved; Who was cruel to my Lord Der­wentwater but my Lord Derwentwater? And who caused him to be executed, the King or himself?

It is not worth while to examine here what he calls inconsistent with Honour and Conscience: If it was not inconsistent with his Honour and Conscience to rise in Arms, that is as far as lay in him to De­pose, Murther, and Destroy the King, and all his Royal Family; It cannot be in­consistent with the greatest Clemency in his Majesty to bring such to the Block. But on the other Hand, it was the highest [Page 29] Testimony imaginable of Royal Clemen­cy, to offer such Men their Lives upon their Testifying their Sorrow for the Crime, by giving a true and faithful Con­fession of all the Parts of the Design, as far as they were really concern'd in it: While they deny this, what Token of Contrition, what Satisfaction of future Loyalty can they give? They pleaded Guilty, say their Party, and threw themselves upon Mercy, and such are generally thought more proper Objects of Mercy than others: But let us examine what is meant here by Pleading Guilty, for except only the Form, I deny that they pleaded Guilty at all.

My Lord Derwentwater very ingenu­ously explains what he understands by his Pleading Guilty, it is in his Speech at the Bar, the 13th of February: The said Earl acknowledges with a real Sorrow, that at the Time in the Articles mentioned, he was in Arms, and with others did march thro', and invade several Parts of this Kingdom. The Law indeed accepts this as Pleading Guilty, because the Fact being acknow­ledg'd, the Law determines from it both the Guilt and the Penalty. But what's this towards a Penitent, or towards such a Confession as must merit Pardon.

When a Prisoner pleads Guilty to the Judge, he needs to own nothing but the [Page 30] Fact, the Court, as I said, determines all the rest.

But when a Prisoner pleads Guilty to his offended Prince, to move and implore his Clemency and Mercy, it is not the Fact but the Crime that he must charge himself with; it behoves him to come and acknowledge it thus: SIR, I own my self a Rebel to you just Authority; I am now willing to become your faithful Subject, to Recognize your Authority, and confess all my Rebellion.

But in all these Gentlemen's Pleading Guilty, there is not one Word of Confes­sing the CRIME, tho' there is of Con­fessing the Fact, that they were in Arms, but do not own that they were Rebels: Nay, my Lord Kenmure is so honest, if the Paper said to be left behind him be Genuine, as to acknowledge he prevaricated in his Pleading Guilty.

Now let any Divine tell us, nay even let a Popish Priest tell us, if this be sound in Divinity. Does God Himself Pardon any Sinners that does not Confess their Offences, or that Confess one part, but will not Confess all? What claim to Mercy can any Christian make, upon any Scrip­tures foundation but upon a FULL and Sincere Confession, I say FULL and Sin­cere; He that hides his Sin shall not Pros­per: [Page 31] But he that Confesses, and Forsakes, shall find Mercy. Prov. 28. 13.

Now these Gentlemen have indeed Con­fess'd the Fact, and what is there in that? Were they not Evident, and easy to be Pro­ved? Was it in their power to Deny any Part? Were they not all taken in the Field of Battle, with the Sword of Rebellion in their Hands? What thanks to them for that Plea? But if they had come ingenuously and confess'd the Treason, acknowledg'd the Crime of it, laid open the Train of it, given in a FULL Account of the Rise and Pro­gress of it; and then have express'd their Sorrow that they should be Guilty of such a horrid Crime; had this been done, and Mercy had been refused them, indeed they would have had some room to talk of Se­verity, tho' none then of Injustice.

But this way of Confessing does not, in my Opinion, reach the Case at all, they have made no Confession of the Rebellion, tho' they have of their being in Arms; in a word, they have acknowledg'd themselves Rebells in or Sense, but they have not ack­nowledg'd that they are sensible of their be­ing Rebells; or that it is Rebellion in their Own Sense; and pray what does all this amount to? For my share I do not see they have pleaded Guilty with any View but that of the Scaffold.

[Page 32] The Confession of a Penitent is quite a­nother thing, his confession will be Com­pleat, will be Sincere, and he will be more afflicted for the Crime, than the Punishment.

Again, he that confesses his Guilt, must confess all his Guilt, and all his Treason; and he cannot be said to make an ingenuous Confession that conceals any thing he knows, which may be for the Detecting the Treason, if any Part lies conceal'd, or that may be for the Safety and Advantage of the Prince, against whom he has offended.

And here comes in the Objection, This is against my Honour and Conscience, because it will Impeach my Friends, break the wicked Compact, the Engagement, or Oath of Secresy taken with other Traytors, and what then? The Consequence is, he takes his Word again, as the Scots call it, relapses to a Rebel in Inclination, and begs par­don that he has acknowledge'd that little that he has.

In a word, if these Gentlemen were not spar'd, it was because they would have their Lives upon their own Terms, or not at all; they would have Mercy shewn to them for Sins unconfess'd; is there any one of them that has given a full Narrative of all the Treasons they have Committed? They have acknowledg'd the capital Part indeed, which, as we may say, they could not avoid, or get clear of; but what else [Page 33] have they Confess'd? Have they told the Government any one thing which they did not know before? Had my Lord Der­wentwater made such an ingenuous Ack­nowledgment of all he knew of the Rebel­lion, I am bold to say, he would have Merited some Mercy, and for that Reason I believe he would have found it.

But this manner of Confession, say they, would have betray'd Friends, brought Great Men and Great Families to Ruin; and, perhaps, a great many of them too; and it is below the Honour of a Nobleman to turn Informer.

It were to be wish'd such Men would put the Circumstances they have brought them­selves to into the Ballance, and consider that with the Point of Honour they speak of: If they had stood out either in their De­fence, or if, after Conviction, had resolv'd to meet Death as from the Hand of an Enemy, then indeed it could not be ex­pected that they should make any such Thing as a Confession. But when they lie prostrate at the Foot of Majesty, Con­demn'd by the Law, Acknowledging the Fact, and Imploring Mercy, this is quite another Thing; and that these Men should reject the Conditions upon which Mercy was offered them, this is perfectly inconsist­ent with the nature of their Submission, and aggravates the Crime they were guilty of [Page 34] before, and makes the Necessity of dealing with them in a Course of strict Justice; and this may be another Reason against Mercy.

It is below the Majesty of the Govern­ment to name the Folly and Madness of their Friends as a Reason for their Execu­tion, and yet it deserves some Notice too: No sooner were these Men, with the rest of the Preston Prisoners, come up, and had been a little while in Prison, but their Friends laugh'd loudly at the Govern­ment, telling them in their Teeth, that they durst not put them to Death; as if the Power that was able to break them in the Field, should not be able to punish them when in Prison. But so preposterous have they been in this Part, that they have pusht the Government almost upon the ne­cessity of bringing them to the Block, to satisfy the World that they dare do it.

This is very hard upon their Friends, and has made their being brought to the Block very reasonable in the present Go­vernment, if not absolutely necessary; and it is worth while for them to consider it on several Accounts: (1.) How just the King had been to have executed many more, and have given that Insolence of their Friends as the Reason of it. And (2.) Whether tho' for Time past it has not been done; yet that if the King should think fit to [Page 35] execute some meerly upon the Importunity of this Circumstance, who otherwise his Majesty's Goodness might incline him to pardon; I say, whether their Blood, tho' not innocent, would not be so to those People, and be laid at their Door.

In the mean time, there is a more forci­ble Reason still to give why his Majesty may not have thought fit to extend that Mercy to these Men, which otherwise, perhaps, they might have found; viz. The continued Threatenings of the Party still to renew their Attempts, to return with a greater Force, and to revive the Re­bellion, promising to rescue their Sufferers out of the Hand of publick Justice, and to return the Treatment they have met with.

Let any one judge whether a threaten­ing Enemy is an Object of Mercy; and whether it would consist with the Honour of his Majesty's Government, and the Safety of his Kingdom, to pardon Enemies that are Insulting him when out of his Hands, and Conditioning with him even when they are in.

It must be allow'd, that Clemency is the Glory of a King, and Mercy the Honour of his Government: But Clemency is to be directed by Wisdom, as the Sword is to be managed by Council. Rebellious Sub­jects unhumbled, can never be the proper [Page 36] Subject of the Prince's Clemency: Neither is Justice executed upon obstinate Rebels any Breach of Moderation in Government.

And how is a Rebel humbled, that owns not his Rebellion to be a Crime? How is he an Object of Mercy, that will not accept of his Life but upon his own Conditions? It's time to Capitulate when they are not in the Hands of Justice. My Lord Nithisdale, who has made his Escape, is in a much proper Posture to ask Mercy after the manner they did, than they were. He that implores Mercy, must first put himself into the Condition that denominates him a proper Object of Mercy, or he has but little Reason to expect it.

His Majesty, no doubt, has yet more and more forcible Reasons for not Granting the Mercy that was petitioned for to the late Lord Derwentwater, &c. but if not, I cannot think but these will make it evident to all the World, that it was not reasona­ble for them to expect Mercy in the Cir­cumstances they were in, or safe for his Majesty to grant it. I hope those who are left, will take Care to behave more suitable to their own Interest, and to deserve better the Mercy they expect.


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