This was a bad beginning for James’s reign; and the English grew more angry and suspicious when they saw that he favored Roman Catholics more than anyone else, and even put them into places that only clergymen of the Church of England could fill. Then he put forth a decree, declaring that a person might be chosen to any office in the State, whether he were a member of the English Church or no; and he commanded that every clergyman should read it from his pulpit on Sunday mornings. Archbishop Sancroft did not think it a right thing for clergymen to read, and he and six more bishops presented a petition to the king against being obliged to read it. One of these was Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells, who wrote the morning hymn, “Awake, my soul, and with the sun,” and the evening hymn, “All praise to Thee, my God, this night.” Instead of listening to their petition, the king had all the seven bishops sent to the Tower, and tried for libel—that is, for malicious writing. All England was full of anxiety, and when at last the jury gave the verdict of “not guilty,” the whole of London rang with shouts of joy, and the soldiers in their camp shouted still louder.
This might have been a warning to the king; for he thought that, as he paid the army, they were all on his side, and would make the people bear whatever he pleased. The chief comfort people had was in thinking their troubles would only last during his reign: for his first wife, an Englishwoman, had only left him two daughters, Mary and Anne, and Mary was married to her cousin William, Prince of Orange, who was a great enemy of the King of France and of the pope; and Anne’s husband, Prince George, brother to the King of Denmark, was a Protestant. He was a dull man, and people laughed at him—because, whenever he heard any news, he never said anything but “Est il possible?” is it possible? But he had a little son, of whom there was much hope.
But James had married again, Mary Beatrice d’Este, an Italian princess; and, though none of her babies had lived before, at last she had a little son who was healthy and likely to live, and who was christened James. Poor little boy! Everyone was so angry and disappointed that he should have come into the world at all, that a story was put about that he was not the son of the king and queen, but a strange baby who had been carried into the queen’s room in a warming-pan, because James was resolved to prevent Mary and William from reigning.
Only silly people could believe such a story as this; but all the Whigs, and most of the Tories, thought in earnest that it was a sad thing for the country to have an heir to the throne brought up by a Roman Catholic, and to think it right to treat his subjects as James was treating them. Some would have been patient, and have believed that God would bring it right, but others were resolved to put a stop to the evils they expected; and, knowing what was the