James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

June 30

Acquittal of the Bishops

By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

  • During the reign of James II. the clergy were required to read from their pulpits, on two successive Sundays, a Declaration of Indulgence which gave freedom of worship to Nonconformists and Roman Catholics. This being entirely unconstitutional, the Archbishop of Canterbury and six bishops declined to comply and were accordingly prosecuted. They were acquitted, to the great joy of the populace, on June 30, 1688.

  • A VOICE, from long expecting thousands sent,

    Shatters the air, and troubles tower and spire;

    For Justice hath absolved the innocent,

    And Tyranny is balked of her desire:

    Up, down, the busy Thames—rapid as fire

    Coursing a train of gunpowder—it went,

    And transport finds in every street a vent,

    Till the whole City rings like one vast quire.

    The Fathers urge the People to be still,

    With outsretched hands and earnest speech—in vain!

    Yea, many, haply wont to entertain

    Small reverence for the mitre’s offices,

    And to Religion’s self no friendly will,

    A Prelate’s blessing ask on bended knees.