Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/174

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Books Condemned to be Burnt.

itself. "The grand security of our government, and the very pillar upon which it stands, is founded upon the steady belief of the subject's obligation to an absolute and unconditional obedience to the supreme power in all things lawful, and the utter illegality of any resistance upon any pretence whatsoever."

Then came the great trial in the House of Lords, and Sacheverell's most able defence, often attributed to his friend Atterbury. This speech, which Boyer calls "studied, artful, and pathetic," deeply affected the fair sex, and even drew tears from some of the tender-hearted; but a certain lady to whom, before he preached the sermon, Sacheverell had explained the allusions in it to William III., the Ministry, and Lord Godolphin, was so astonished at the audacity of his public recantation that she suddenly cried out, "The greatest villain under the sun!" But for this little fact, one might think Sacheverell was unfairly treated. At the end of it all, however, he was only suspended from preaching for three years, and his sermons condemned to be burnt before the Royal Exchange in presence of the Lord Mayor and sheriffs; a sentence so much more lenient than at first seemed probable, that bonfires and illuminations in London and