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A History of the Four Georges, Volume I

Illington being in grief for the loss of his dog Harlequin


justify;">The charges made

against Atterbury had therefore sometimes to rest upon inferences drawn from confessions, or portions of confessions, averred to have dropped or been drawn from men whose lips were now closed by death. Those who defended Atterbury dwelt strongly on this fact, as was but natural. It is curious to notice how often in the debates of the Lords on the Bill of Pains and Penalties one noble peer accuses another of secret sympathy with Jacobite schemes. As regards Atterbury, the whole question was whether he was really the person described in the correspondence now as Jones and now as Illington. There might have been no evidence which even a "secret, wise" committee of that day would have cared to accept but for the fact that the bishop's wife had received, or was to have received, from France a present of a dog called Harlequin, and that there was mention in the correspondence about poor Mr. Illington being in grief for the loss of his dog Harlequin. This allusion put the committee of secrecy on the track. The bishop's wife had lately died, and it would seem from the correspondence that Illington's wife had died about the same time. Clearly, if it were once assumed that Illington and Atterbury were one and the same person, there was ample ground for suspicion, and even for a general belief that the story told {222} was true in the main. The evidence was enough for Parliament at that time, and the Bill passed the House of Lords on May 16th by a majority of eighty-three votes to
forty-three. Atterbury was deprived of all his offices and dignities, declared to be forever incapable of holding any place or exercising any authority within the King's dominions, and condemned to perpetual banishment. He went to France in the first instance with his daughter and her husband. It so happened that Bolingbroke had just at that time obtained a sort of conditional pardon from the King; obtained it mainly by bribing the Duchess of Kendal. The two Jacobites crossed each other on the way, one going into exile, the other returning from it. "I am exchanged," was Atterbury's remark. "The nation," said Pope afterwards, "is afraid of being overrun with genius, and cannot regain one great man but at the expense of another." So far as this history is concerned we part with Atterbury here. He lived abroad until 1731, and after his death his remains were brought back and privately laid in Westminster Abbey.

[Sidenote: 1723--Tom Tempest and Jack Sneaker]

We have directed attention to the freedom and frequency of the accusations of Jacobitism made by one peer against another during the debates on Atterbury's case. The fact is worthy of note, if only to show how uncertain, even still, was the foundation of the throne of Brunswick, and how wide-spread the sympathy with the lost cause was supposed to be. When Bolingbroke was allowed to return to England, some of Swift's friends instantly fancied that he must have purchased his permission by telling some tale against the dean himself, among others, and long after this time we find Swift defending himself against the rumored accusation of a share in Jacobite conspiracy. The condition of the public mind is well pictured in a description of two imaginary politicians in one of the successors to the _Tatler_. "Tom Tempest" is described as a steady friend to the House of Stuart. He can recount the prodigies that have appeared in the sky, and the calamities that have afflicted the {223} nation every year from the Revolution, and is of opinion that if the exiled family had continued to reign, there would neither have been worms in our ships nor caterpillars in our trees. He firmly believes that King William burned Whitehall that he might steal the furniture, and that Tillotson died an atheist. Of Queen Anne he speaks with more tenderness; owns that she meant well, and can tell by whom she was poisoned. Tom has always some new promise that we shall see in another month the rightful monarch on the throne. "Jack Sneaker," on the other hand, is a devoted adherent to the present establishment. He has known those who saw the bed in which the Pretender was conveyed in a warming-pan. He often rejoices that this nation was not enslaved by the Irish. He believes that King William never lost a battle, and that if he had lived one year longer he would have conquered France. Yet amid all this satisfaction he is hourly disturbed by dread of Popery; wonders that stricter laws are not made against the Papists, and is sometimes afraid that they are busy with French gold among our bishops and judges.


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