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Oddsfish! by Robert Hugh Benson

The Duke of Monmouth too was back again in London


that was not all.

First, it appeared as if even His Majesty himself was frightened at what he had done, for he allowed my Lord Archbishop of Armagh, Dr. Oliver Plunket, to be convicted and executed in London, clean contrary to all evidence or right or justice--just because he was a Papist, and the popular cry had been raised against him that he was conspiring to bring the French over to Ireland, whereas he was a good and kindly old man, who lived in the greatest simplicity and neither did nor designed harm to any living creature. (I do not know whether it was the name _France_ that frightened the King; but certainly at that time I was engaged on his behalf in some transactions with that country which would have ruined him had they ever been known.) But then he recovered himself, after the sacrifice of one more Catholic, and did what he should have done a great while ago, and caused my Lord Shaftesbury to be arrested and sent to the Tower on a charge of fomenting insurrection, which was precisely what my Lord had been doing for the last two years at least.

But His Majesty's scheme fell through; for the sheriffs, who were Whigs, and on my Lord's side, therefore, packed the grand jury of the City and acquitted him.

Then there was another affair of which I, in my business in France, saw something of the other side. My negotiations were coming to a successful end, when news came

over to Paris that the Prince William of Orange was in England, and made much of by His Majesty. This last was a lie; but I wrote across to His Majesty of what a bad impression such a rumour made; and urged him to make amends--which he did very handsomely. The Duke of Monmouth too was back again in London, and so was the Duke of York; so the chess-pieces were all again for the present on the squares on which the game had begun. It was also a little satisfaction to me to hear that Her Grace of Portsmouth had urged the Duke of York's return; for I thought myself not a little responsible for her change of face. Once again, however, the Duke returned to finish affairs in Scotland, and then came back to Court; and it was on his journey there that the _Gloucester_ was wrecked, and His Royal Highness so nearly drowned.

The Duke of Monmouth however saw that affairs were moving against him; so he determined on a very bold stroke; and, after returning to England once more without His Majesty's leave, went through all the country as if on a royal progress; and it was astonishing how well he was received. It was then that Mr. Chiffinch wrote to me at length, telling me of the spies he had sent to follow the Duke everywhere, and asking whether I would not come over myself to help in it. But I was just considering whether I would not go to Rome; and, indeed, before I could make up my mind, another letter came saying that the Duke was to be arrested, and then let out on bail, and that he could do no more harm for the present. So I went to Rome, and there I stayed a good while, reporting myself and all that I had done, and being received very graciously by those who had sent me.

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