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and Wildman was known to be one of the leading spirits. The burlesque decree of the Committee of Safety of the Commonwealth of Oceana with its reference to “ the Politick casuists of the Coffee Club in Bow Street,” shows that Harrington at an earlier date was in some way associated or connected with the condemned locality. The rumour had also doubtless got about that he was anxious to continue the meetings of his club. Furthermore, he was known to be writing a new account of his republican principles. On the face of it it is improbable that Harrington would take part in a conspiracy of this sort, particularly if the account given by the parliamentary committee is the correct one. His politics were too academic for that. But there was certainly an excuse for ordering his arrest, and he had to pay for his activity and notoriety during the year of anarchy.
For several weeks Harrington remained in the Tower without trial. His sisters worked hard to procure his release. One of them, being already known to the King, obtained an audience with his majesty and laid the case before him. She urged that some mistake must have been made, because the warrant was issued against Sir James Harrington. This gentleman was a cousin of the author of “Oceana,' who had served on most of the Councils of State under the Commonwealth and Protectorate, and has since been confused with his namesake by Noble in his “ Lives of the Regicides,” by Froude, and by most indexers. Charles was by no means sympathetic, but he ordered an examination to be conducted by Harrington's kinsman, Lord Lauderdale, Sir George Carteret, and Sir Edward Walker. An account of it was preserved by one of Harrington's sisters and
* This pamphlet is dated Nov. 12th, 1659
TRIAL AND IMPRISONMENT
published by Toland. Much to Sir George Carteret's discomfiture Harrington flatly denied that he had been implicated in the conspiracy, and pleaded that he had not seen Wildman or Barebones for some two years. He then proceeded to defend his action in continuing to write political works. He referred to the criticisms showered on him for meddling with politics in a private capacity, adding, “ My Lord, there is not any public Person nor any Magistrat, that has written in the Politics worth a Button. All they that have been excellent in this way have been privat men, as privat men, my Lord, as myself. There is Plato, there is Aristotle, there is Livy, there is Machiavel.” Plato lived under a democracy, but the others living under monarchical or oligarchical institutions were permitted to utter republican sentiments without molestation. His pleas were unavailing, and met with no response.
This examination did not serve to clear Harrington of his accusations, and he was no nearer to a public trial. But his sisters continued to do their best. On February 14th, Lady Ashton and Mrs Evelyn obtained permission to visit their brother. They were allowed to take a doctor to examine his health, and certain tenants, who refused to pay rent unless they saw their landlord sign their acquittances. They found their brother in weak health owing to his imprisonment, and attempted to procure better treatment for him by a present of £50 to the Lieutenant of the Tower. But he was still no nearer to a public trial. He sent a petition to the King, asserting the innocent and peaceable nature of his past life. He also wrote a petition to Parliament, which he gave his sister ; but she could find no one willing to introduce it.
It is also printed in Howell,“ State Trials," v. 114 ff.
ILLNESS AND RELEASE
Finally she moved for his Habeas Corpus. This was granted and duly served ; but the move was thwarted according to the custom which commonly prevailed before the passing of the Habeas Corpus Act in 1679, by removing the prisoner to a different gaol. The place chosen was a small rock off Plymouth called St Nicholas Island. Here he was still worse off. The narrowness of his quarters and the absence of fresh water aggravated his ill health. But a petition for his removal to the mainland was granted, his brother William, now a prosperous hemp merchant, and his uncle, Anthony Samuel, who was a distinguished architect, giving £5000 in bond for his good behaviour. At Plymouth he was better treated. He was allowed to take exercise on the Hoe, and he frequently received the hospitality of the deputy governor of the fort, whom he won over like everybody else by his charming conversation. But the state of his health grew more and more alarming. Too many doses of guiacum, given (some said) to prevent him from writing any more “Oceanas,” others said to cure him of scurvy, brought on a curious form of madness. It was considered useless to keep him in confinement while he was in this condition, and he was finally released and moved to London.
The remainder of his life was spent in retirement.
He returned to his old house "in the Little-Ambry (a faire house on the left hand) which lookes into the Deane's Yard in Westminster. In the upper story he had a pretty gallery, which looked into the yard
where he commonly dined and meditated and tooke his tobacco." 2 He was married late in life
1 Wood's information that Harrington travelled on the Continent after the Restoration is not borne out by Aubrey or Toland.
Aubrey, " Brief Lives," i. 233.
to his old love, the daughter of Sir Marmaduke Dorell of Buckinghamshire. He continued to see much of his friend Nevile; and he associated also with Sir Roger L'Estrange, the Tory censor, Sir Thomas Dolman, some time clerk to the Privy Council ; Dr Pell, who was a man no less interested in foreign countries than mathematics; Andrew Marvell, who was drawn to Harrington by their common urbanity, and Aubrey, the recipient of the only letter written by Harrington which has survived. This letter would be of no particular interest otherwise. It runs as follows, and bears the date 1669.1
It is very much agt my nature to fayle in anything might please a friend to whom I beare an hearty affection, but something, not worth giving account off, is nevertheless the reason why I cannot waite on ye according to my promise on Wensday night, for wh no fault of my owne, I yet humbly beg yo excuse. I am Si
Yr affectionate For his much
friend and servant, honoured friend
J. HARRINGTON. Mr AUBREY.
During these years of life in London Harrington's behaviour was rational enough in most things. But he constantly dwelt on a peculiar delusion, from which he had suffered since his illness at Plymouth. He imagined that he perspired the spirits of flies and bees, and he refused to believe his doctors when they put it down to a form of melancholy madness. Declaring
1 A copy of the orignial, which is in the Bodleian, is in the British Museum, Egerton MSS. 2231, f. 187.
HIS MADNESS AND DEATH
his belief in the Stoic philosophy, and adopting as his motto, Vivere secundum Naturam,” he wrote a treatise called "The Mechanics of Nature” (a fragment of which was published by Toland), to prove by the doctrine of the Anima Mundi that he was right in his philosophical contention. He also tried an experiment which hardly helped to prove his sanity. He had," says Aubrey, "a timber versatile built in Mr Hart's garden (opposite to St James' Parke) to try the experiment. He would turne it to the sun and sitt towards it; then he had his fox-tayles there to chase away and massacre all the flies and bees that were to be found there and then shut his chassees. Now this experiment was only to be tryed in warme weather, and some flies would lie so close in the cranies and the cloath (with which it was hung) that they would not presently show themselves. A quarter of an hower after perhaps, a fly or two, or more, might be drawn out of the lurking holes by the warmth; and then he would crye out, “ Doe not you see it apparently that these come from me ?"
Harrington's health grew worse and worse. By the year 1676 he had become a confirmed invalid. His friend Nevile still visited him, faithful as ever. On September 7th, 1677, he died. He was buried in St Margaret's Westminster, on the south side of the altar, next to the grave of one whose writings and sympathies bore no small resemblance to his own, Sir Walter Raleigh. Andrew Marvell wrote him an epitaph. But it was feared that it might give offence. The inscription which was set over his tomb was both dignified and unobjectionable :
“ Hic jacet Jacobus Harrington, Armiger (filius maximus natu Sapcotis Harrington de Rand, in Com. Linc. Equitis aurati et Janæ uxoris ejus, filiæ Gulielmi