Speech of the Archbishop of York, September 24, 1745

Thomas Herring (1693-1757) was named Bishop of Bangor in 1737 by the Elector Georg II of Hanover. He was promoted to the Archbishopric of York in 1743 and to the Archbishopric of Canterbury in 1747.

A printed version of the text can be found in The Gentleman's Magazine 15 (September 1745), 471-472.

My Lords, Gentlemen, my Reverend Brothers of the Clergy.

I am desired by the Lords Lieutenants of the several ridings to open to you the reason of our present assembling. And as the advertisement which has called us together is in everybody's hands, and the fact now speaks itself too plainly, a few words will be sufficient on this occasion.

It was some time before it was believed (I would to God it had gained credit sooner), but now every child knows it, that the Pretender's son is in Scotland, has set up his standard there, has gathered and disciplined an army of great force, receives daily increase of numbers, is in the possession of the capital city there, has defeated a small part of the King's forces, and is advancing with hasty steps towards England.

What will be the issue of this rapid progress must be left to the providence of God. However, what is incumbent upon us to do is to make the best provision we can against it; and every gentleman, I dare say every man in England, will think it his wisdom and his interest to guard against the mischievous attempts of these wild and desperate ruffians.

But the great mischief to be feared, which ought to alarm us exceedingly and put us immediately on our defence, is the certain evidence which every day opens more and more that these commotions in the North are but part of a great plan concerted for our ruin. They have begun under the countenance, and will be supported by the forces, of France and Spain, our old and inveterate (and late experience calls upon me to add, our savage and blood-thirsty) enemies - a circumstance that should fire the indignation of every honest Englishman. If these designs should succeed, and popery and arbitrary power come in upon us under the influence and direction of these two tyrannical and corrupted courts, I leave you to reflect what would become of everything that is valuable to us.

We are now blessed under the mild administration of a just and Protestant king, who is of so strict an adherence to the laws of our country that not an instance can be pointed out during his whole reign wherein he made the least attempt upon the liberty, or property, or religion of a single person. But, if the ambition and pride of France and Spain is to dictate to us, we must submit to a man to govern us under their hated and accursed influence, who brings his religion from Rome, and the rules and maxims of his government from Paris and Madrid.

For God's sake, gentlemen, let us consider this matter as becomes us, and let no time be lost to guard against this prodigious ruin. To your immortal honour be it spoken, you have considered it, and are now met together to call in the unanimous consent and assistance of this great county. This county, as it exceeds every other for its extent and riches, so it very naturally takes the lead of the inferior ones. And it will be extremely to our credit, give courage to the friends of the best constitution in the world, damp the spirits of its enemies at home (if any such can be conceived in Britain at this dangerous crisis), and be an instruction to those abroad, that there is still spirit and honesty enough among us to stand up in defence of our common country. This will be the use of an unanimous and hearty declaration of fidelity to our country and loyalty to our king. But the times, gentlemen, call for somthing more than this! Something must be done as well as said - and the fund for our defence, already begun and now to be proposed to this assembly, will, it is hoped, from reasons of public example and public safety, meet with the hearty concurrence of every individual that composes it. And at the same time that your hearts go along with the association, your hands will be open to support the necessary measures of self defence.

As to you, my reverend brethren, I have not long had the honour to preside among you, but from the experience I have had, and what I have always heard of your honest love to your country (if you permit me to say so), I will be your security to the public, that you will decline no pains to instruct and animate your people, nor expense, according to your circumstance, to stand up against popery and arbitrary power under a French or Spanish government. We scorn the policies of the court of Rome, have no interests separate from the people, but on every occasion where our country is concerned, look upon ourselves as incorporated with the warmest defenders of it; or if we desire to be distinguished, it will be by our ardour and zeal to preserve our happy constitution.

Let us unite then, gentlemen, as one man to stop this dangerous mischief, from which union no man surely can withdraw or withold his assistance, who is not listed into the wicked service of a French or Spanish invasion, or wholly unconcerned for the fate of his bleeding country.

May the great God of battle stretch out his all powerful hand to defend us, inspire an union of hearts and hands among all ranks of people, a clear wisdom into the councils of His Majesty, and a steady courage and resolution into the hearts of his generals.

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