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into every thing that concerned the safety of the nation, as well as into matters of treason; and they looked on me as bound to satisfy them, otherwise they would make me feel the weight of their heavy displeasure, as one that concealed what they thought was necessary to be known. Upon this I yielled, and gave an account of the discourse formerly mentioned. They laid great weight on this, and renewed their address against Duke Lauderdale.
“I was much blamed for what I had done. Some, to make it look the worse, added, that I had been his chaplain, which was false ; and that I had been much obliged to him, though I had never received
any real obligation from him, but had done him great services, for which I had been very unworthily requited : Yet the thing had an ill appearance, as the disclosing of what had passed in confidence; though I make it a great question, how far even that ought to bind a man when the designs are very wicked, and the person continued still in the same post and capacity of executing them. I have told the matter as it was, and must leave myself to the censure of the reader. My love to my country, and my private friendship, carried me, perhaps, too far; especially since I had declared much against clergymen's meddling in secular affairs, and yet had run myself so deep in them."— History of his Own Times, Vol. I. p. 375.
The discourse to which Burnet refers was of the following dangerous tendency, and took place in September 1673.
“Duke. If the king should need an army from Scotland, to tame those in England, might the Scots be depended upon ?
“ Burnet. Certainly not. The commons in the southern parts are all Presbyterians. The nobility thought they had been ill used, were generally discontented, and only waited for an opportunity to show it.
“ Duke. I am of another mind. The hope of the spoil of England will bring them all in.
“ Burnet. The king is ruined if he trusts to that; for even indifferent persons, who might otherwise have been ready enough to push their fortunes without any anxious enquiries into the grounds they went upon, will not now trust the king, since he has so lately said, he would stick to his declaration, † and yet has so soon given it up.
“ Duke. Hinc illæ lacrymæ. The king was forsaken in that matter, and none sticks to him but Lord Clifford and myself."--Ralph, with the Authorities he quotes, Vol. I. p. 275.
James II. afterwards revived the plan of maintaining a Scottish standing army, to bridle his English subjects.
+ The Declaration of Indulgence. See Vol. IX. p. 447,
Note XXXII. And runs un Indian muck at all he meets.-P. 235. To run a-inuck, is a phrase derived from a practice of the Malays. When one of this nation has lost his whole substance by gaming, or sustained any other great and insupportable calamity, he intoxicates himself with opium; and, having dishevelled his hair, rushes into the streets, crying Amocca, or Kill, and stabbing every one whom he meets with his creeze, until he is cut down, or shot, like a mad dog.
Such was, and is, the Captain of the Test.-P. 236. Burnet may have been thus denominated, from having written the following pamphlets, in the controversy respecting the Test, against Parker, the apostate bishop of Oxford :
“ An Enquiry into the Reasons for Abrogating the Test imposed on all Members of Parliament, offered by Dr Samuel Parker, Bishop of Oxford.”
“ A Second Part of the Enquiry into the Reasons offered by Doctor Samuel Parker, bishop of Oxford, for Abrogating the Test; or an Answer to his plea for Transubstantiation, and for Acquitting the Church of Rome of Idolatry.”
“A Continuation of the Second Part of the Enquiry into the Reasons offered by Dr Samuel Parker, Bishop of Oxford, for Abrogating the Test relating to the Idolatry of the Church of Rome.”
These two last pamphlets were afterwards thrown together in one tract, entitled, “ A Discourse concerning Transubstantiation and Idolatry, being an Answer to the Bishop of Oxford's plea relating to these two points.”
Burnet himself admits, that his papers, in this controversy with Parker, were written with an acrimony of style which nothing but such a time and such a man could excuse. His papers were so bitter, that nobody durst offer them to the bishop of Oxford, till the king himself sent them to him, in hopes to stimulate him to an apswer.
Several of these pieces seem to have been published after “ The Hind and the Panther;" but it must have been generally known at the time, that Burnet had placed himself in the front of this controversy.
And much the Buzzard in their cause did stir,
The passage particularly referred to in these lines occurs in a tract, entitled, “ Reasons against repealing the Act of Parliament, concerning the Test,” which is the first of six papers published by Dr Burnet when in Holland, and reprinted at London in 1689. His words are these :
“ IX. I am told some think it very indecent to have a test for our parliaments, in which the king's religion is accused of idolatry; but if this reason is good in this particular, it will be full as good against several of the articles of our church, and many of the homilies. If the church and religion of this nation is so formed by law, that the king's religion is declared over and over again to be idolatrous, what help is there for it? It is no other than it was when his majesty was crowned, and swore to maintain our laws. “I hope none will be wanting in all possible respect to his sa
person; and as we ought to be infinitely sorry to find him engaged in a religion which we must believe idolatrous, so we are far from the ill manners of reflecting on his person, or calling him an idolater: for as every man that reports a lie, is not for that to be called a liar; so that, though the ordering the intention, and the prejudice of a mis-persuasion, are such abatements, that we will not rashly take on us to call every man of the church of Rome an idolater; yet, on the other hand, we can never lay down our charge against the church of Rome as guilty of idolatry, unless at the same time we part with our religion.”
We cannot suppose that Burnet was insensible to the poignancy of Dryden's satire ; for, although he attempts to treat the poem with contempt, in the defence of his “ Reflections on Varillas' History,” his coarse and virulent character of the poet plainly shows his inward feelings. “ I have been informed from England, that a gentleman, who is known both for poetry and other things, had spent three months in translating M. Varillas's History; but that, as soon as my Reflections appeared, he discontinued his labour, finding the credit of his author was gone. Now, if he thinks it is recovered by his Answer, he will perhaps go on with his translation ; and this may be, for aught I know, as good an entertainment for him as the conversation that he had set on between the Hinds and Panthers, and all the rest of animals, for whom M. Varillas may serve well enough for an author: and this history and that poem are such extraordinary things of their kind, that it will be but suitable to see the author of the worst poem, become likewise the translator of the worst history, that the age has produced. If his grace and his wit improve both proportionably, he will hardly find that he has gained much by the change he has made, from having no religion to choose one of the worst. It is
true, he had something to sink from, in matter of wit; but as for his morals, it is scarce possible for him to grow a worse man than
He has lately wreaked his malice on me for spoiling his three months' labour; but in it he has done me all the honour that any man can receive from him, which is to be railed at by him. If I had ill-nature enough to prompt me to wish a very bad wish for him, it should be, that he would go on and finish his translation. By that it will appear, whether the English nation, which is the most competent judge in this matter, has, upon the seeing our debate, pronounced in M. Varillas’s favour, or in mine. It is true, Mr D. will suffer a little by it; but at least it will serve to keep him in from other extravagancies; and if he gains little honour by this work, yet he cannot lose so much by it, as he has done by his last employment.”.
They long their fellow-subjects to enthral,
Part of the controversy which now raged, turned on the precise meaning of the king's promise, to maintain the church of England as by law established. The church party insisted, that the Declaration of Indulgence was a breach of this promise, as it suspended their legal safeguards, the test and penal laws. The advocates for the toleration answered, that the promise was conditional, and depended on the church consenting to the abrogation of these laws. This was stated by Penn, in his “ Good Advice ;" to which the following indignant answer is made by a champion of the church, perhaps Burnet himself:
“ And if there be no other way of giving the king an opportunity of keeping his word with the church of England, in preserving her, and maintaining our religion, but the repealing of the penal and test laws, as he intimates unto us, (Good Advice, p. 50.) we have not found the royal faith so sacred and inviolable in other instances, as to rob ourselves of a legal defence and protection, for to depend upon the precarious one of a base promise, which his ghostly fathers, whensoever they find it convenient, will tell him it was unlawful to make, and which he can have a dispensation for the breaking of, at what time he pleaseth. Nor do we remember, that when he pledged his faith unto us, in so many promises, that the parting with our laws was declared to be the
condition upon which he made, and undertook to perform them. Neither can any have the confidence to allege it, without having recourse to the Papal doctrine of mental reservation. Which being one of the principles of that order, under whose conduct he is, makes us justly afraid to rely upon his word without further security. However, we do hereby see, with what little sincerity Mr Penn writes ; and what small regard he hath to his majesty's honour, when he tells the church of England, that if she please, and like the terms of giving up the penal and test laws against Papists, that then the king will perform his word with her; (Good Advice, p. 17.) but that otherwise, it is she who breaks with him, and not he with her.” (Ibid. p. 44.)
No rights infringed, but license to oppress.-P. 237. The declaration for liberty of conscience was a strange and incongruous, as well as most impolitic performance. It set out with declaring, that although the king heartily wished that all his subjects were members of the Catholic church, (which they returned, by heartily wishing that he were a Protestant,) yet he abhorred all idea of constraining conscience; and therefore, making no doubt of the concurrence of Parliament, declared, 1. That he would protect and maintain the bishops, &c. of the church of England, as by law established, in the free exercise of their religion, and quiet enjoyment of their possessions. 2. That all execution of penal laws against non-conformists be suspended. 3. That all his majesty's subjects should be at liberty to serve God after their own way, in public and private, so nothing was preached against the royal authority. 4. That the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, and the tests made in the 25th and 30th years of Charles II., be discontinued. 5. That all non-conformists be pardoned for former offences against the penal laws and test. 6. That abbey and church lands be assured to the possessors.
Such were the contents of this memorable Declaration, in which a bigotted purpose was cloaked under professions of the highest liberality; and prevarication and falsehood were rendered more disgusting, by being mingled with very unseasonable truth.