Speech of the Reverend Thomas Coppach, October 18, 1746
Mr Coppach joined the Prince Regent in Manchester. It was said that he was promised the bishopric of Carlisle. On October 18, 1746, he was executed in that city at the orders of the Elector Georg II of Hanover. Before his execution he gave the following speech.
A printed version of the text can be found on pages 60 to 64 of volume 1 of The Lyon in Mourning, edited by Henry Paton (Edinburgh: Scottish Historical Society, 1895).
I am now on the brink and confines of eternity, being to suffer a scandalous, ignominious death for my duty to God, my King and country, for taking up arms to restore the royal and illustrious house of Stewart, and to banish from a free, but enslaved people a foreigner, a tyrant, and an usurper. For never was the British nation since the Norman Conquest governed more arbitrarily, or enjoyed more precariously. Never was a nation under the canopy of Heaven more grossly abused, more scandalously imposed upon, or more notoriously deceived. Liberty has been banished. Tyranny and oppression, like a deluge, have overflowed the land. Places of the utmost importance have been taken from the most deserving and given to the illiterate, unexperienced or unqualified. Our fleets and armies, once the terror of Europe, are now the scorn, contempt and derision of all nations. The one, like Æsop's mountain, has brought forth a silly, ridiculous mouse; the other has brought home eternal infamy, shame and disgrace. Such a Ministry and such a Parliament was nation never cursed with. The former for these thirty years past has exhausted our treasures, drained our purses on foolish idle treaties and negotiations to procure us allies and friends; and no friend or ally have we in the world we can trust, rely on or confide in. The latter, vassals, creatures equally despicable, void of honour and conscience, composed of pensioners and placemen, have sacrificed their country, their all, to the boundless ambition and insatiable avarice of a beggarly Hanoverian electorate. Estimates, supplies and subsidies have been granted, nemine contradicente, though never so illegal, unreasonable and unjustifiable. Such heavy taxes and such a monstrous load of national debt this kingdom never groaned under since Julius Caesar's invasion; so that justice may say, never was Parliament (some few members excepted, rara avis in terris, nigro simillima cygno) more slavishly devoted or more sottishly infatuated.
Here it will not be amiss to introduce that worthy honest gentleman, the Elector's Earl of Oxford. When a motion was made by some true patriots to bring him to give an account of his stewardship of the nation's money, did not his Elector solemnly declare that a hair of his head should not be hurt, conscious that he had acted by his direction in sending sums to aggrandize his poor, native, scrubby country, Hanover, - sums to engage the affections of the wavering Dutch, sums to bias the votes at elections?
These are facts the truth of which is too obvious. What soul inspired with the least grain of courage, the smallest spark of honour, or that sympathizes with the sufferings of his fellow-creatures, would tamely sit down or patiently acquiesce under such monstrous and unheard of grievances? When religion and loyalty, liberty and property call to arms! when a prince adorned with all the gifts of nature, and grace of education, endowed and enriched with every virtue, amiable and commendable (maugrè all your vile reports, invidious reflections and slanderous aspersions; maugrè all your pulpit harangues, stuffed with downright falsities, gross calumnies and palpable absurdities), daily amidst the horrid din of war, risks and exposes his precious life to conquer and subdue the Lernæan Hydra, to deliver you from almost Egyptian tyranny, bondage, and slavery: - a prince whose title to the crown is indisputable, whose conduct and courage are inimitable and matchless, and whose virtue, mercy, and goodness none can parallel or equal! Nil viget simile aut secundum!
Such is your legal jure-divino, hereditary and lineally descended Prince, whose father you exiled and excluded, whose grandfather you rebelled against and banished, and whose head, conscious of your own demerits, you have set a price on! Seeing the heir, Come, say you, let us fall upon him and kill him, and the inheritance will be ours. Be not too secure. Your iniquities are almost completed. The fulness of time is almost at hand, even at the door, when the Almighty I AM, with my Prince under the shadow of his wings, will pour out the vials of his wrath, fury and indignation on that cursed, perjured and abandoned people, on this guilty, perverse, wicked and adulterous generation. For the innocent blood of the righteous cries Vengeance! Vengeance! O my native country! my native soil! What pans hast thou to endure! What throes to labour with! What misery and desolation is thy lot and portion!
Kind Heaven! Avert all these evils by a speedy and blessed restoration, that Albion may no more be scourged by vultures, storks and logs; may once more see happy days, once more put on its ancient lustre, pristine splendor and glory; that God and Cæsar may enjoy their own just and due right; that tribute may be rendered to whom it is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour, and that the supreme powers may receive the sovereign allegiance, obedience and subjection which are really and duly theirs by the laws of God and nature in conjunction.
It is for sentiments and tenets of this kind I am now made a public spectacle, that my head is publicly to be exposed and my bowels burnt; which I gladly and willingly submit to without the least reluctance. Nay, I should rejoice beyond measure, if this simple head of mine could be fixed on all the Cathedral and parish churches in Christendom to satisfy the whole Christian world of the honesty of my intentions and the integrity of my principles. And could it be engraven on my tombstone:
UNDERNEATH ARE DEPOSITED THE ASHES OF THE ONLY ENGLISH PROTESTANT CLERGYMAN WHOSE HONOUR, COURAGE, LOYALTY AND ZEAL ARE CONSPICUOUS IN HIS ROYAL MASTER'S CAUSE.I should have been silent about my religion had it not been to satisfy and open the eyes of severals who have been deceived by false representations, which was, I believe, the reason I was spit upon, struck, stoned, insulted and barbarously treated by severals (some of whom are since dead), not only in Carlisle but Kendall and elsewhere, when I was led in a string by Mark Ker's dragoons through all the dirt and nastiness, with my arms pinioned, from Carlisle to Lancaster Castle, by an express order of the pretended Duke of Cumberland, notwithstanding Baron Clarke's specious harangue to make the jury believe I was not an object worthy of their notice.
I declare then upon the faith of a dying man that I die an unworthy member of that particular church, the Church of England, as she stood before the Revolution, which I firmly believe to be truly primitive, Catholic and Apostolic, free from superstition on the one hand, and Fanaticism and Enthusiasm on the other. May she prosper and flourish! May she, like a house on a rock, withstand all tempests, storms and inundations, till time shall be no more!
And now, God bless my royal, true and undoubted sovereign, King James, His Royal Highness Charles, Prince of Wales, Henry, Duke of York and Albany! O Jehovah! bless, protect and preserve them! for nothing but fraud and anarchy and confusion, nothing but horrid bloodshed and barbarous murder, villainy, perjury, ambition and cruelty, barbarity within and corruption without, have reigned triumphant in this island since their banishment. God bless all my enemies, persecutors and slanderers, epecially that corrupted judge, Baron Clarke, who put a most malicious construction on everything said at my trial! God forgive Samuel Pendlebury of Manchester, John Hill, Thomas Joy, an Irishman, John Gardener and Thomas Dennison, both of Carlisle, who all grossly perjured themselves at my trial! O Lord God! send them timely repentance and remission of their sins! I freely and voluntarily forgive them; and humbly ask pardon of all I have injured in thought, word or deed. I close with the dying words of my Saviour and Redeemer, and the proto-martyr deacon, St Stephen, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do! Lord, lay not this sin to their charge! Lord Jesus, receive my soul! Amen!"
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