quent meetings had taken place between them at Chiffinch's, at which the king had freely expressed his belief that the ‘plot’ was a got-up affair; and from his own account Burnet appears to have been sufficiently frank in the advice which he gave the king to amend his life. Probably the like of the letter which he addressed to the king on 29 Jan. 1680 never passed between a simple clergyman within reach of high preferment and a monarch little accustomed to hear plain truths. After saying that, though ‘no enthusiast in opinion or temper,’ he felt constrained to write, he points out to the king the certain failure of the plans hitherto suggested for extricating him from his difficulties, and then comes to the real point: ‘There is one thing, and indeed the only thing, which can easily extricate you out of all your troubles; it is not the change of a minister or of a council, a new alliance, or a session of parliament; but it is a change in your own heart and in your course of life. And now, Sir, permit me to tell you that all the distrust your people have of you, all the necessities you now are under, all the indignation of Heaven that is upon you, and appears in the defeating of all your counsels, flow from this, that you have not feared nor served God, but have given yourself up to so many sinful pleasures.’ The rest of the letter is in the same strain. Charles read it over twice, threw it into the fire, and for a while was evidently annoyed; but from Burnet's reception a year later, when Halifax, in close intimacy with whom he now lived, took him again to the king, the affair seemed to have entirely dropped from his mind. It is to be noticed that in this year Burnet was thanked for his poems by the House of Commons—the only notice of poems of his that we possess (Hist. MSS. Comm. 3rd Rep. 197). When Viscount Stafford was condemned, he sent for Burnet. Declining controversy on religion, he requested Burnet to do what he could in the way of intercession, and Burnet appears to have done his best, apparently thereby injuring himself still further with the supporters of the plot, as well as with James, who suspected that Stafford had accused him to Burnet. Like every one else, he had an ‘expedient,’ which excited some attention, for settling the exclusion question, viz. that a protector should be declared, and that Orange should be named to the post.
During the reaction of 1681 Burnet, finding himself regarded with increasing suspicion and dislike, especially by James, went into close retirement, occupied himself with philosophy, algebra, and chemistry, for which he built himself a laboratory, and confined his intimate friendship to Russell, Essex, and Halifax. He had hopes that through the influence of Halifax, who remonstrated with him on his seclusion, and of Clarendon, that he might be appointed to the vacant mastership of the Temple; and he was favourably received by the king. A condition, however, appeared to be that he should abandon the society of his other friends, and this he would not do. From Scotch affairs he kept aloof; but when the test of 1682 turned out of their livings some eighty of the best of the clergy, he was successful in obtaining places for them in England, while writing in favour of the test itself, and removing Hamilton's scruples on the subject. At the same time he exerted himself, by intercession with Halifax, and through him with the king, to save Argyll from the infamous condemnation which followed his refusal of the test. This was the occasion for a reconciliation with Lauderdale. By Halifax he was a good deal consulted during the ministerial changes of 1682. About the end of this year he was offered a living of 300l. by Essex, on condition that he would reside in London, though the parish was in the country. It is, for that age, a remarkable instance of his high feeling of professional duty that he refused it on such terms. In 1683 took place the Rye House plot, which proved fatal to his two best friends, Essex and Russell. Burnet attended Russell at his trial and in the prison, performed for him the last offices on the scaffold, when Russell gave him his watch as a parting present, and drew up for him the paper which he left in his justification. He afterwards defended the course he had taken with spirit and success before the council (Lord John Russell, Life of Russell, Appendix 8). Burnet now, finding himself silenced (Hist. MSS. Comm. 7th Rep. 498 b), thought it wise to leave England. He went to France in the beginning of September (ib. 289 a) with introductions from the French ambassador, Rouvigny, uncle to Lady Russell. Here he found himself in company with Algernon Sidney and Fletcher of Saltoun. He was treated with the highest consideration by Louis, who never failed to try to secure the sympathies of leading men in England, and he made the acquaintance of Schomberg, Condé (who, however, intimated his intention of not accepting another visit) (ib. 380 b), Bourdaloue, Père-la-Chaise, Maimbourg, and other men distinguished in church and state, as well as with the leading protestant clergy. After describing the extraordinary honours paid to Burnet, and how he was caressed by people of the best quality of both sexes that could be, Lord Preston concludes his letter from