Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/54

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found the whole of Fleet Street and the Strand white with seditious handbills.[1]

Of the numerous performances which were ushered into the world by such shifts as these, none produced a greater sensation than a little book which purported to be a form of prayer and humiliation for the use of the persecuted Church. It was impossible to doubt that a considerable sum had been expended on this work. Ten thousand copies were, by various means, scattered over the kingdom. No more mendacious, more malignant or more impious lampoon was ever penned. Though the government had as yet treated its enemies with a lenity unprecedented in the history of our country, though not a single person had, since the Revolution, suffered death for any political offence, the authors of this liturgy were not ashamed to pray that God would assuage their enemy's insatiable thirst for blood, or would, if any more of them were to be brought through the Red Sea to the Land of Promise, prepare them for the passage.[2] They complained that the Church of England, once the perfection of beauty, had become a scorn and derision, a heap of ruins, a vineyard of wild grapes; that her services had ceased to deserve the name of public worship; that the bread and wine which she dispensed had no longer any sacramental virtue; that her priests, in the act of swearing fealty to the usurper, had lost the sacred character which had been conferred on them by their ordination.[3] James was profanely described as the stone which foolish builders had rejected; and a fervent petition was put up that Providence would again make him the head of the corner. The blessings which were called down on our country were of

  1. See the accounts of Anderton's Trial, 1693; the Postman of March 12, 1695/6; the Flying Post of March 7, 1700; Some Discourses upon Dr. Burnet and Dr. Tillotson, by Hickes, 1695. The appendix to these Discourses contains a curious account of the inquisition into printing offices under the Licensing Act.
  2. This was the ordinary cant of the Jacobites. A Whig writer had justly said in the preceding year, "They scurrilously call our David a man of blood, though, to this day, he has not suffered a drop to be spilt." — Mephibosheth and Ziba, licensed Aug. 30, 1689.
  3. "Restore unto us again the publick worship of thy name, the reverent administration of thy sacraments. Raise up the former government both in church and state, that we may be no longer without King, without priest, without God in the world."