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covered by Oates, and supported, as it was
because, being regular men, they were not men who had any great degree of learning. Afterwards, my lords, I met with one Hutchinson: I found him a saintlike man, or one that was religious for religions sake: and him I found not for my turn neither; for, my lords, my design was to deal with their casuists, that is, those of the society. After that I had obtained the favour from him to have some conference with one of the society, I found they were the men for my turn; because I found they were the cunning politick men, and the men that could satisfy me. After that I had had some discourse with them, I pretended to be convinced by their arguments: and, my lords, after that I had thus acknowledged my conviction, I desired to be reconciled; and, accordingly, on Ash Wednesday, 1676, I was reconciled a."
-Burnet says, upon asking Oates, “What were the arguments that prevailed on bim to change his religion, and to go over to the Church of Rome? he stood up, and laid his hand upon his breast, and said, 'God, and his holy angels, knew, that he had never changed; but that he had
gone among them on purpose to betray them b.” And, if he may be believed, betray them he did : for, the jesuits having given him ten pounds to carry letters to Madrid; he, by the way, broke up the letters, and afterwards revealed their contents.”- He moreover, according to Burpet, proud and ill-natured; haughty, but ignorant.--He was once presented for perjury: but he got to be chaplain to one of his majesty's ships, from which he was dismissed upon com
* Stafford's Trya', p. 25. fol. London, 1680-1.
• Vol. I. p. 423. “ Narrative of the Plot, p. 2. fol. Lond. 1679,
supposed, by Coleman's letters, and the
plaint of some unnatural practices, not to be named.” A very hopeful evidence, truly! Lord Stafford, in his defence, observed, “ that any man that shall pretend himself to be a papist, for what end soever it be that he so pretends, and dissembles with God Almighty, which he must do to a great height in receiving that sacrament, which is, by your lordships and the house of commons, declared to be gross idolatry, is not easily to be esteemed a witness. I appeal to your lordships, to the house of commons, and every body, whether such a fellow, that will abhor his religion, let him do it for any ends in the world, be a man to be credited; and especially engaging in such a way, to such an heighth, in that which his conscience tells him is idolatrous, is not a perjured fellow, and no compleat witness? No Christian; but a devil, and a witness for the devila."
2. Oates's narrative is absolutely incredible. Can it be supposed that letters containing treason, high treason, should be intrusted to a new convert? That jesuits would subscribe their names to letters of such a nature in his presence, and permit him to see and read them? That they should tell hin, “they would not let the Black Bastard go to his grave in peace (meaning the king of England); for that he had cheated them so often, and that now they were resolved to be served so no more; and that the duke's passport was ready, whenever he should appear to fail them?" Is it credible that the fathers of St. Omers should direct such a man to compose letters for them, and sign them when composed, “praying the English jesuits to prosecute
murder of Sir Edmondbury Godfrey. It
their design in taking away the king; and if his royal highness should not comply with them, to dispatch him too: for they did fear that
of the Stuarts were men for the effecting any of their ends and purposes ?"-Will any reasonable man imagine, that a provincial of jesuits would own, to such a one, that they employed persons to burn the city of London, and to plunder during the flames ? That they would communicate to him a plan for firing Westminster, Wapping, Tooley-Street, Barnaby-Street, and St. Thomas Apostles ? A man, one would think, must be capable of swallowing transubstantiation, who can believe these things which are contained in Oates's narrative, and sworn by him with all solemnity! But soinething rather more surprising follows: Oates being thus intrusted, Oates having the lives of numbers at his mercy, was yet very ill treated by the provincial himself. Hear his account of the matter.
“ When the provincial saw the deponent [Oates], he asked him, With what face he could look upon hiin, since he had played such a treacherous trick with them ? and struck the deponent three blows with a stick, and a box on the ear; and charged him with being with the king, and a minister with him, whom he suspected to have informed the king of those things : because that Bedingfield had related, in a letter to Blundel, that the duke of York had related some such thing to him; and did therefore judge that it must be the deponent that must have been drawn in by some persons to the
But at last the provincial told the deponent, that he was willing to be reconciled to him, if he would discover what the parson was, his name, and place of abode ; 10 the end they might be secure of him; and
was an intricate affair, attended with im
were resolved to kill him. And in the mean time the deponent was ordered to make himself ready to go beyond the seas within fourteen days, as he the provincial saida.” I observe farther, that though the sentence passed on Oates by the judges, in the latter part of this reign, was adjudged in parliament, after the Revolution, to be unprecedented, cruel, and illegal; yet, after debate, a clause was inserted in the bill for reversing the judgments given against hiin, “ that, until the said matters, for which the said Oates was convicted of perjury, be heard and determined in parliament, that the said Oates shall not be received in any court, matter, or cause whatsoever, to be a witness, or give any evidence; any thing in this act, in any wise, contained to the contrary notwithstanding b.? What is this, but declaring himn perjured ? and what stress can be laid on the testimony of such a man?
3. Nor were the other principal evidences much better men, or deserving of more credit. Bedlow, by his own confession, had sworn falsely; and was told by “ Wyld, a worthy and antient judge, that he was a perjured man, and ought to come no more into courts, but to go home and repent.” Indeed he must have been truly Oates's fellow, if we may credit his own account. In the title page of his “ Narrative of the Plot for burning and destroying the Cities of London and Westminster,” he styles himself one of the popish committee for carrying on such fires d. In the book itself we have the following paragraphs:“ In the month
2 Oates's Narrative, p. 54. vol. II. p. 458. fol. 1679.
• Torbuck's Parliamentary Debates, Bumet, vol. I. p. 450.
probabilities of many kinds ; but believed,
of June, 1676, it was my fortune to be at Paris, at the English convent of Benedictine monks, with whom I had much ingratiated myself; so that at that time they reposed an entire confidence in me, as a fit instrument for their purposes. Amongst other discourses that happened there about the great business, which they and others were then most vigorously carrying on, viz, to subvert the protestant religion, and introduce popery into England; they fell to debate the several ways and means preparatory thereunto, and what might be the best expedients to facilitate and accomplish the same: and as they did nothing without correspondence and communication of counsels from their fellow conspirators in England : so some or one of them produced several letters from London, wherein were divers particulars relating to the fring of the city and suburbs of London, and other cities and eminent towns in England, which was then and at all times concluded and agreed to, by them, to be the chief way and almost only means in their power, whereby to plain the way for their design : for they were unanimously of opinion, that it was absolutely necessary to weaken and ruin the said city of London, ere they could bring any of their other contrivances to perfection. After this discourse, they at last proceeded to ask me, whether I would be assistant to them in carrying on that business, as I had been in the other great concern; this being one of the best expedients to ripen and push on that? To which I readily seemed to assent; assuring them, that I could and would do more therein than any other could: magnifying what intimate knowledge I had of all parts of London, and some other great trading cities; which did capacitate me to affect such a busin