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The Unveiling of the Popish Plot (20/4)


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It was unusual for the Lord of Trade to visit the Lord Treasurer in his offices, but these were usual times. Thomas Osborne sat behind the massive oak desk that he cherished, while Anthony Ashley-Cooper and his guest took their seats on the other side.


“This is the man I spoke to you about,” Shaftesbury revealed. “This is Titus Oates. He has an interesting story to relay about a Jesuit plot to kill the King and place the Duke of York upon the throne.” With a nod to the defrocked Jesuit, Shaftesbury indicated for Oates to begin.

The tale was far-fetched, but interesting. Even if untrue, the tale would likely inflame the hatred for Catholicism even more, which might play into the hands of those who sought the downfall of the Duke of York. Danby was a supporter of the King, but mistrusted the motives of York and other English Catholics. The King had abandoned him to Country Party mercies and now he planned to get a pound of revenge. Unlike Arlington, a man he hated, he would work behind the scenes and pretend solidarity with the King.


“I agree that this might be something to be investigated by Parliament,” Danby replied cautiously. “I will not oppose a committee to be formed to investigate these allegations but it must be a joint committee of Lords and Commons, with equal membership of both parties.” Shaftesbury was in a good mood. The wind was blowing at his back with these new allegations. “But, the head of the committee cannot be a Court Party member, or it would undermine their independence. Likewise, there are to be no Catholics on the Committee, lest the secrets be revealed to Rome.” There was a long pause. “I would not oppose that,” the Lord Treasurer agreed.


“Good,” uttered Shaftesbury as he took to his feet. “We shall see if the Lord Chancellor is equally reasonable.”

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