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London in the Jacobite Times (Complete)

213 pages
Library of Alexandria
On the last morning of Queen Anne’s life, a man, deep in thought, was slowly crossing Smithfield. The eyes of a clergyman passing in a carriage were bent upon him. The carriage stopped, the wayfarer looked up, and the two men knew each other. The one on foot was the dissenting preacher, whom Queen Anne used to call ‘bold Bradbury.’ The other was Bishop Burnet. ‘On what were you so deeply thinking?’ asked the bishop. ‘On the men who died here at the stake,’ replied Bradbury. ‘Evil times, like theirs, are at hand. I am thinking whether I should be as brave as they were, if I were called upon to bear the fire as they bore it.’ Burnet gave him hope. A good time, he said, was coming. The queen was mortally ill. Burnet was then, he said, on his way from Clerkenwell to the Court, and he undertook to send a messenger to Bradbury, to let him know how it fared with Anne. If he were in his chapel, a token should tell him that the queen was dead. A few hours later, Bradbury was half way through his sermon, when he saw a handkerchief drop from the hand of a stranger in the gallery. This is said to have been the sign agreed upon. The preacher went quietly on to the end of his discourse; but, in the prayer which followed, he moved the pulses of his hearers’ hearts, by giving thanks to God for saving the kingdom from the doings of its enemies; and he asked for God’s blessing on the King of England, George I., Elector of Hanover. About the same time Bishop Atterbury had offered to go down in front of St. James’s Palace, in full episcopal dress, and proclaim James III.—the late Queen’s brother. The Tory Ministry wavered, and Atterbury, with words unseemly for a bishop’s lips, deplored that they had let slip the finest opportunity that had ever been vouchsafed to mortal men. The Regency knew better how to profit by it. George was proclaimed king. Dr. Owen of Warrington preached a Whig sermon, from 1 Kings xvi. 30, ‘And Ahab, the son of Omri, did evil in the sight of the Lord, above all that were before him.’ The text was as a club wherewith to assail the soil of James II. A little later, Bradbury was accused of having preached from the words, ‘Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her; for she is a king’s daughter.’ This was a calumny. Burnet’s sermon was on Acts xiii. 38 41, and defied objection. In those verses there was nothing to lay hold of. The most captious spirit could make little out of even these words, ‘Behold, ye despisers; and wonder and perish, for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.’ The Jacobites could turn it to no purpose. Queen Anne was dead, George was proclaimed. The fine gentlemen in coffee and chocolate houses, and the fine ladies who breakfasted at noon, in bed, read in their respective papers that ‘the late queen’s bowells were yesterday buryed in Henry the VII.’s Chappel.’ ‘If,’ wrote Chesterfield to Jouneau, ‘she had lived only three months longer, … she would have left us, at her death, for king, a bastard who is as great a fool as she was herself, and who, like her, would have been led by the nose by a band of rascals.’