« AnteriorContinuar »
justify the former. History, however, supplies us with examples even of this kind; and the reality of the supposition, though, for the future, it ought ever to be little looked for, must, by all candid inquirers, be acknowledged in the past. But between dethroning a prince and punishing him, there is another very wide interval; and it were not strange, if even men of the most enlarged thought should question, whether human nature could ever in any monarch reach that height of depravity, as to warrant, in revolted subjects, this last act of extraordinary jurisdiction. That illusion, if it be an illusion, which teaches us to pay a sacred regard to the persons of princes, is so salutary, that to dissipate it by the formal trial and punishment of a sovereign, will have more pernicious effects upon the people, than the example of justice can be supposed to have a beneficial influence upon princes, by checking their career of tyranny. It is dangerous also, by these examples, to reduce princes to despair, or bring matters to such extremities against persons endowed with great power, as to leave them no resource, but in the most violent and most sanguinary counsels. This general position being established, it must however be observed, that no reader, almost of any party or principle, was ever shocked, when he read, in ancient history, that the Roman senate voted Nero, their absolute sovereign, to be a public enemy, and, even without trial, condemned him to the severest and most ignominious punishment; a punishment from which the meanest Roman citizen was, by the laws, exempted. The crimes of that Bloody tyrant are so enormous, that they break through all rules; and extort a confession, that such a dethroned prince is no longer superior to his people, and can no longer plead, in his own defence, laws, which were established for conducting the ordinary course of administration. But when we pasm. from the case of Nero to that of Charles, the great dispro. portion, or rather total contrariety, of character imme diately strikes us; and we stand astonished, that, among a civilized people, so much virtue could ever meet with so fatal a catastrophe. History, the great mistress of wisdom, furnishes examples of all kinds; and every prudential, as well as moral precept, may be authorized by those events, which her enlarged mirror is able to present to us. From the memorable revolutions which passed in England during this period, we may naturally deduce the same useful lesson, which Charles himself, in his later years, inferred; that it is dangerous for princes, even from the appearance of necessity, to assume more authority than the laws have allowed them. But it must be confessed, that these events furnish us with another instruction, no less natural, and no less useful, concerning the madness of the people, the furies of fanaticism, and the danger of mercenary armies.
In order to close this part of the British history, it is also necessary to relate the dissolution of the monarchy in England: that event soon followed upon the death of the monarch. When the peers met, on the day appointed in their adjournment (6th Feb.), they entered upon business, and sent down some votes to the commons, of which the latter deigned not to take the least notice. In a few days, the lower house passed a vote, that they would make no more addresses to the house of peers, nor receive any from them; and that that house was useless and dangerous, and was therefore to be abolished. A like vote passed with regard to the monarchy; and it is remarkable, that Martin, a zealous republican, in the debate on this question, confessed, that, if they desired a king, the last was as proper as any gentleman in England.102 The commons ordered a new great seal to be engraved, on which that assembly was represented, with this legend, ON THE FIRST YEAR OF Freedom, BY God's BLESSING, RESTORED, 1648. The forms of all public business were changed, from the king's name, to that of the keepers of the liberties of England.108 And it was declared high treason to proclaim, or any otherwise acknowledge, Charles Stuart, commonly called prince of Wales.
The commons intended, it is said, to bind the princess Elizabeth apprentice to a button maker: the duke of Gloucester was to be tangbt some other mechanical em, ployment. But the former soon died; of grief, as is supposed, for her father's tragical end: the latter was, by Cromwel, sent beyond sea.
The king's statue, in the Exchange, was thrown down;' and on the pedestal these words were inscribed : Exit TYRANNUS, REGUM ULTIMUS; The tyrant is gone, the last of the Kings.
Duke Hamilton was tried by a new high court of justice, as earl of Cambridge in England; and condemned for treason. This sentence, which was certainly hard, but which ought to save his memory from all imputations of treachery to his master, was executed on a scaffold, erected before Westminster-hall. Lord Capel underwent the same fate. Both these noblemen had escaped from prison, but were afterwards discovered and taken. To all the soli. citations of their friends for pardon, the generals and parliamentary leaders still replied, that it was certainly the intention of Providence they should suffer; since it had permitted them to fall into the hands of their enemies, after they had once recovered their liberty.
The earl of Holland lost his life by a like sentence. Though of a polite and courtly behaviour, he died lamented by no party. His ingratitude to the king, and his frequent changing of sides, were regarded as great stains on his memory. The earl of Norwich, and sir John Owen, being condemned by the same court, were pardoned by the commons.
The king left six children; three males, Charles, born in 1630, James duke of York, born in 1633, Henry duke of Gloucester, born in 1641 ; and three females, Mary princess of Orange, born 1631, Elizabeth, born 1635, and Henrietta, afterwards duchess of Orleans, born at Exeter 1644.
The archbishops of Canterbury in this reign were Abbot and Laud: the lord keepers, Williams bishop of Lincoln, lord Coventry, lord Finch, lord Littleton, and sir Richard Lane; the high admirals, the duke of Buckingham and the earl of Northumberland; the treasurers, the earl of Marlborough, the earl of Portland, Juxon bishop of
London, and lord Cottington; the secretaries of state, lord Conway, sir Albertus Moreton, Coke, sir Henry Vane, lord Falkland, lord Digby, and sir Edward Nicholas.
It may be expected that we should here mention the Icon Basiliké, a work published in the king's name a few days after his execution. It seems almost impossible, in the controverted parts of history, to say any thing which will satisfy the zealots of both parties : but with regard to the genuineness of that production, it is not easy for an historian to fix any opinion, which will be entirely to his own satisfaction. The proofs brought to evince that this work is or is not the king's, are so convincing, that if any impartial reader peruse any one side apart, 104 he will think it impossible that arguments could be produced, sufficient to counterbalance so strong an evidence: and when he compares both sides, he will be some time at a loss to fix any determination. Should an absolute suspense of judgment be found difficult or disagreeable in so interesting a question, I must confess, that I much incline to give the preference to the arguments of the royalists. The testimonies, which prove that performance to be the king's, are more numerous, certain, and direct, than those on the other side. This is the case, even if we consider the external evidence: but when we weigh the internal, derived from the style and composition, thee is no manner of comparison. These meditations resemble in elegance, purity, neatness, and simplicity, the genius of those performances which we know with certainty to have flowed from the royal pen: but are so unlike the bombast, perplexed, rhetorical, and corrupt style of Dr. Gauden, to whom they are ascribed, that no human testimuny seems sufficient to convince us that he was the author. Yet all the evidences, which would rob the king of that honour, tend to prove that Dr. Gauden had the merit of writing so fine a performance, and the infamy of imposing it on the world for the king's.
It is not easy to conceive the general compassion excited towards the king, by the publishing, at so critical a juncture, a work so full of piety, meekness, and humanity.
Many have not scrupled to ascribe to that book the subsequent restoration of the royal family. Milton compares its effects to those which were wrought on the tumultuous Romans by Anthony's reading to them the will of Cæsar. The Icon passed through fifty editions in a twelvemonth; and independent of the great interest taken in it by the nation, as the supposed production of their murdered sovereign, it must be acknowledged the best prose composition, which, at the time of its publication, was to be found in the English language.
Part. Hist. vol.vii. : 458., 556.
1 Fourteen thousand men were only i large ; especially as the sequestra
intended to be kept up; 6000 horse, tions, during the time of war, could 6000 foot, and 2000 dragoone. not be so considerable as afterwards. Bates.
20 Yet the same sum precisely is as9 Rushworth, vol. vii. p. 564.
signed in another book, called Royal 3 Rushworth, vol. vi. p. 134.
Treasury of England, p. 297. 4 Rushworth, vol. vii. p. 565.
21 Clement Walker's History of Inde5 Rushworth, vol. vii. p. 474.
peudency, p. 3. 160. 6 Parl. Hist. vol. xv. p. 342.
22 Clement Walker's History of Indo7 Parl. Hist. vol. xv. p 344.
pendency, p. 8. 8 Rushworth, vol. vii. p. 457. | 23 Clement Walker's History of Inde9 Parl. Hist. vol. vii. p. 458.
pendency, p. 8. 10 Rushworth, vol. vii. p. 461. 556. 24 Clement Walker's History of lude11 Rushworth, vol. vii. p. 468.
pendency, p. 8. 12 Rushworth, vol. vii. p. 474. 25 See John Walker's Attempt towards 13 Rushworth, vol, vii. p. 485. Cla
recovering an Account of the Numdon, vol. v. p. 43.
bers and Sufferings of the Clergy. 14 Rushworth, vol. vii. p. 497. 505. The parliament pretended to leave Whitlocke, p. 250.
the sequestered clergy a fifth of their 15 Rushworth, vol. vii. p. 487.
revenue; but this author makes it 16 Whitlocke, p. 254. Warwick, p. 299. sufficiently appear, that this provi. 17 Rushworth, vol. vii. p. 514, 515. sion, small as it is, was never reClarendon, vol. v. p. 47.
gularly paid the ejected clergy. 18 Clarendon, vol. v. p. 46.
26 Clement Walker's History of Inde. 19 Clement Walker's History of the pendency, p. 5. Hollis gives the
Two Juntos, prefixed to his History same representation as Walker of the of Independency, p.8. This is an plundering, oppressions, and tyranny author of spirit and ingenuity; and of the parliament: only, instead of being a zealous parliamentarian, his laying the fault on both parties, as authority is very considerable, not Walker does, he ascribes it solely to withstanding the air of satire which the independent faction. The pres prevails in his writings. This com byterians, indeed, being commonly putation, however, seems much too! denominated the moderate party,