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than the diabolical plot of exterminating the leading Protestants of the land, by a dreadful explosion of gunpowder : an act more revolting to the human heart, it were impossible to conceive. But I will not anticipate : this being one of the remarkable events noted in the calendar for this month, we shall receive a circumstantial account from our friend William. The failure of this design, however,, appears again to have damped the ardour of the Catholics; for throughout the next reign of Charles I. and the period of the Commonwealth, the Protestant religion made considerable advancement ; when the troubles in the time of Charles II. appeared only as the prelude to the more serious change which was to take place in the reign of his successor, James II. ; who, having been bred a Papist by his mother, possessing a weak mind, and being strongly bigoted in his principles, immediately on ascending the throne, despatched submissions to the Pope of Rome, and endeavoured, by every means in his power, to pave the way for the re-admission of Popery into England. Frequent were the struggles during this reign, between the king, the ecclesiastics, and the people, the latter of whom ultimately triumphed, and drove the king from his dominions; who gave place to William, Prince of Orange. This eminent character, who was remarkable for his tolerant spirit in matters of religion, soon secured the Protestant form of worship on so firm a basis, as to obtain for his name a considerable degree of veneration, and to authorize the appellation of “glorious" to be given to that Revolution which in his time was so ably effected. This brings us to the consideration of a day styled, in our almanack, King William Landed. If you have any particulars to state of your namesake, William, we shall be happy to hear them.
WILLIAM. Nothing, Sir, further than that he landed at Torbay, in Devonshire, on the 5th of November, and not on the 4th, as erroneously registered in the calendar. It appears from Burnet's account, that his Majesty set sail from Holland on the 1st, and passed Dover and Calais on the 3rd, when, recollecting that the 4th was the anniversary of his birth, and also of his wedding with the Princess Mary, he expressed a wish to add another important event to the day, by setting his foot on English ground. He thought it would look auspicious to the army, and animate the soldiers. But others, who considered that the day following was the anniversary of Gunpowder Treason, considered his landing then would have a greater effect on the English nation ; when Burnet adds: “ And Divine Providence so ordered it, that, after all hopes of our landing at Torbay were given up, and Russell bid me go to my prayers, for all was lost, the wind suddenly shifted, and carried us into the desired haven. Here the Prince, Marshal Schomberg, and the foot soldiers, landed on November the 5th. I never found a disposition to superstition in my temper; yet I must confess this strange ordering of the winds and seasons, just to change as our affairs required it, could not but make deep impressions on me.”
Mr. ConstaNCE. The reason this memorable event is not noted on the right day, has been thus explained :During the life of King William, it was customary to commemorate the anniversary of his birth, which was held on the 4th ; but after his demise, it being considered desirable that his name should remain to honour the calendar, the word born was merely altered to landed, without shifting the day; and thus the error has been perpetuated. Why it is not now corrected, I cannot say.
ARTHUR. But now, William, for an account of what we call “ Guy Fawkes Day."
WILLIAM. Mr. Constance has just reminded us, that the strong attachment to religious principles, so inherent in professors of the Catholic faith, frequently prompted
them to acts the most revolting and dreadful. In the calendar for September, we noticed the day set apart in remembrance of the fire of London in 1666; and whatever doubts may exist as to the truth of the charge, that it originated in the same feeling, no one has attempted to dispute the fact, that Powder Plot in 1605 was solely planned by that body of Christians, for the purpose of effecting a change in the religion of the state. Indeed, the names of some of the most eminent of their priests have been handed down to posterity, as active participators in the plot. It was in the reign of James I. that this nefarious transaction was planned; but it would appear, if the confession made by some of the conspirators may be relied on, that in the latter part of the reign of Elizabeth, the Catholics meditated some great effort to re-establish Popery in England. Robert Winter, one of the conspirators, had been deputed by three or four members of the society of Jesuits in England, to proceed privately to Spain with a proposal, that Philip, the reigning prince of that country, should send an army into England, where he might rely on co-operation.
CHARLES. Do you mean the Armada, so called ?
William. Oh, no :-indeed the design was never attempted; for Queen Elizabeth dying before the project could be sufficiently matured, Philip, on the accession of James I. excused connecting himself in the plot, by saying that “ he had sent ambassadors to treat with the new king, and he could no longer listen to their proposals, however favourable their prospects of success.”
MARIA. Then we are to understand that he countenanced the proposal when it affected Elizabeth.
WILLIAM. He did : and it was upon Philip's assurance of future support, that Robert Winter returned to England. James I. having been educated in the tenets of the Romish church, the Catholics were induced to hope, that on his ascending the throne, they should have the happiness to see that change effected which they had só long and so ardently desired. But they were mistaken : James proved a firm supporter of the Protestant religion, as established by the long reign of Elizabeth. He rejected all petitions from the Papists for liberty of conscience, in which he was of course warmly supported by the Protestant nobles around the throne. Then it was that the Catholics lost all hope ; and Percy, a descendant of the Northumberland family, speaking with some friends on the distressed state of their Catholic brethren, broke into a great rage, and proposed assassinating the king.
CHARLES. Then did this descendant of the Northumberland family first suggest the diabolical plot of blowing up the Parliament-house?
WILLIAM. No: one Robert Catesby, a gentleman of good parts and ancient lineage, is universally admitted as the author. He took the opportunity when Percy talked about assassination, of revealing to him what he termed a nobler and more extensive plan of vengeance, and which would afford some hopes of restoring the Catholic religion in England. “In vain," said he, “ would you put an end to the king's life: he has children, who would succeed both to his crown and his maxims of government. In vain would you extinguish the whole royal family : the nobility, the gentry, the parliament are all infected with the same heresy, and could raise to the throne another prince, and another family, who, besides their hatred to our religion, would be animated with revenge for the tragical death of their predecessors. To serve any good purpose (he continued) we must destroy, at one blow, the king, the royal family, the lords, the commons, and bury all our enemies in one common ruin.”
Angelina. What a monstrous project ! yet Percy immediately acceded, I believe.
WILLIAM. He did : and on inquiring the means by which so desirable an act should be effected, Catesby replied, that on the first day of Parliament, their enemies would happily all be assembled, and by running a mine below the hall in which they met, and choosing the precise time when the king harangued both houses, they could, in one moment, consign to destruction, what he was pleased to call, “ these determined enemies to all piety and religion.”
ANGELINA. It appears to me, that this project, extensive as it was, would probably have failed in securing to the Catholics those powers, which the conspirators, in the blindness of their zeal, seemed to anticipate. For if it had not produced a re-action on the part of the Protestants, many of their friends must necessarily have been consigned to destruction; persons who, from their rank in life, would alone have been competent to further their
WILLIAM. I agree with you, Angelina, in thinking that the end would not have been so favourable as the conspirators supposed. It is, however, impossible for us to conceive what would have been the result, had the plan been effected. But, to proceed : The matter was communicated to a few more friends, and Thomas Winter, brother to Robert before mentioned, was sent over to Flanders in quest of Guido Fawkes, an officer in the Spanish service, with whose zeal and courage they were all thoroughly acquainted. During this interval they enlisted new members, who were bound to secresy by a solemn oath: all which passed in the spring and summer of 1604, when the conspirators, also hired a house in Percy's name, adjoining to one in which the Parliament was to assemble. Towards the end of the year they began their operations. That they might be less interrupted, and excite no suspicion in the Leighbourhood, they carried in a store of provisions with