« AnteriorContinuar »
credible (did not historians unanimously concur in recording the fact) that he should
a constant reader of St. Paul's Epistles; and, by continual study, had so incorporated the phrase and stile of that transcendant apostle into all his familiar letters, that the imitation seemed to vie with the original. Yet this availed not to deceive the people of that empire, who, notwithstanding his saint's vizard, tore him to pieces for his tyranny. From stories of this nature, both antient and modern, which abound, the poets also, and some English, have been, in this point, so mindful of decorum, as to put never more pious words in the mouth of any person than of a tyrant. I shall not instance an abstruse author, wherein the king might be less conversant; but one whom we well know was the closet-companion of these his solitudes, William Shakespear, who introduces the person of Richard III. speaking in as high a strain of piety and mortification as is uttered in any passage of this book [the Eikon Basilike), and sometimes to the same sense and purpose with some words in this place: I intended, saith he, not only to oblige my friends, but my enemies. The like saith Richard, Act II. Scene I...
“I do not know that Englishman alive,
I thank my God for my humility. “ Other stuff of this sort may be read throughout the whole tragedy, wherein the poet used not much license in departing from the truth of history, which delivers him a deep dissémbler, not of his affections only, but of his religion a.”
There is great justness in these remarks, whether they affect the case of king Charles or no, which will
* Milton's Prose Works, vol. I. p. 408,
revive the declaration of his father, concerning lawful sports' on the Lord's-day, dis
best appear after the reader has attentively considered him in his private and public character : for all that he is represented as having done, may have been 'nothing more than a mere form of godliness, though it was ever so sincere, as I see no reason to suppose the contrary. Thousands of men have done as much or more, who yet were far enough from being virtuous. For he that doth righteousness, is righteous: he that doth it not, deceives himself, if he thinks he has any right to that character, on account of diligence and exactness in the acts of private or public devotion.
Far be it from me to censure Charles on the account of his devotion. It were to be wished men's characters were always uniform, that where there was an appearance of piety, every virtue was also to be found; but as it is well known this is not the case, we are not to presume a man good, because he is devout.
14 That he should revive the declaration of his father, concerning lawful sports on the Lord's-day, &c.] One would have thought that the strict observation of the Lord's-day would have been agreeable to the grave and religious temper of Charles; for it tends much to increase sobriety of thought and behaviour, and to keep up in men's minds a sense of the Deity, the obligations they are under to worship him, and the account they have to render unto him, as well as many other good purposes. This the lord chief justice Richardson, and the justices of peace for Somersetshire, were very sensible of, and therefore made an order at the assizes for the suppression of ales and revels on the Lord’s-day in that county; thinking them dishonourable to God, and prejudicial to his majesty and the country. Hereupon Laud, archbishop of Canterbury,
countenance such as were for a strict observance of it, and even at council suffer the
complained to the king; and the chief justice was commanded to attend the board, and, notwithstanding all he could allege, to revoke his order, which at the next assizes he was forced to do, contrary to his inclinations, as well as to the inclinations of the lord Paulet, Sir William Portman, Sir John Stowell, Sir Ralph Hopton, Sir Francis Popham, Sir Edward Rodney, Sir Francis Doddington, Sir Jo. Hornet, Edward Paulet, William Basset, George Speke, John Wyndham, Thomas Lutterel, William Walrone, and divers others; who drew up a petition to the king, shewing the great inconveniencies that would befall the county, if these meetings and assemblies should now be set up again. But before these gentlemen could deliver their petition to the king, it was prevented by the coming forth of his majesty's declaration, concerning lawful sports; his majesty giving the ensuing warrant for the same.
“ CHARLES Rex. “ Canterbury, see that our declaration, concerning recreations on the Lord's-day, after evening-prayer, be printed.” · And accordingly, on the 18th of October 1633, it came forth in print, and was to this effect :
“ That king James, of blessed memory, in his return from Scotland, coming through Lancashire, found that his subjects were debarred from lawful recreations upon Sundays, after evening-prayers ended, and upon holydays. And he prudently considered, that if these times were taken from them, the meaner sort who labour hard all the week, should have no recreations at all, to refresh their spirits. And, after his return, he further saw, that his loyal subjects in all other parts of his kingdom did suffer in the same kind, though per
chief justice Richardson to be reprimanded in such a severe manner by the bishop of
haps not in the same degree; and did therefore, in his princely wisdom, publish a declaration to all his loving subjects, concerning lawful sports to be used at such times; which was printed and published by his royal commandment in the year 1618, in the tenor which hereafter followeth.
“ Whereas, upon his majesty's return last year out of Scotland, he did publish his pleasure, touching the recreations of his people in those parts, under his hand. For some causes him thereunto moving, hath thought good to command these his directions, then given in Lancashire, with a few words thereunto added, and most appliable to these parts of the realm, to be published to all his subjects.
“ Whereas he did justly, in his progress through Lancashire, rebuke some puritans and precise people ; and took order, that the like unlawful carriage should not be used by any of them hereafter, in the prohibiting and unlawful punishing of his good people for using their lawful recreations, and honest exercises, upon Sundays, and other holidays, after the afternoon-sermon or service. His majesty hath now found, that two sorts of people, wherewith that country is much infected, viz. papists and puritans, hath maliciously traduced and calumniated those his just and honourable proceedings: and therefore, lest his reputation might, upon the one side (though innocently), have some aspersion laid upon it; and that, upon the other part, his good people in that country be misled by the mistaking and misinterpretation of his meaning, his majesty hath therefore thought good hereby to clear and make his pleasure to be manifested to all his good people in those parts.
London, that, says Heylin, he came out blubbering and complaining, that he had
It is true, that, at his first entry to this crown and kingdom, he was informed, and that truly, that his county of Lancashire abounded more in popish recusanţs than any county of England, and thus hath still continued since, to his great regret, with little amendmenț; save that, now of late, in his last riding through his said county, hath found, both by the report of the judges and of the bishop of that diocess, that there is some amendment now daily beginning, which is no small contentment to his majesty. The report of this growing amendment amongst them, made his majesty the more sorry, when, with his own ears, he heard the general complaint of his people, that they were debarred from all lawful recreations and exercise upon the Sunday's afternoon, after the ending of all divine seryice, which cannot but produce two evils: the one, the hindering the conversion of many, whom their priests will take occasion hereby to vex, persuading them that no honest mirth or recreation is lawful or tolerable in the religion which the king professeth, and which cannot but breed a great discontentment in his people's hearts, especially of such as are, peradventure, upon the point of turning. The other inconvenience is, that this prohibition barreth the common and meaner sort of people from using such exercises as may make their bodies more able for war, when his majesty or his successors shall have occasion to use them; and in place thereof, sets up tipling and filthy drunkenness, and breeds a number of idle and discontented speeches in their ale-houses. For when shall the common people have leave to exercise, if not upon the Sundays and holidays, seeing that they must apply their labour, and win their living, in all working-days?