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amatorious poem of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia; a book in that kind full of worth and wit, but among religious thoughts and duties not worthy to be named; nor to be read at any time without good caution, much less in time of trouble and affliction to be a Christian's prayer-book ?
They who are yet incredulous of what I tell them for a truth, that this philippic prayer is no part of the king's goods, may satisfy their own eyes at leisure in the third book of Sir Philip's Arcadia, p. 248, comparing Pamela's prayer
with the first prayer of his majesty, delivered to Dr. Juxon immediately before his death, and entitled a Prayer in Time of Captivity, printed in all the best editions of his book. And since there be a crew of lurking railers, who in their libels, and their fits of railing up and down, as I hear from others, take it so currishly, that I should dare to tell abroad the secrets of their Ægyptian Apis; to gratify their gall in some measure yet more, which to them will be a kind of alms, (for it is the weekly vomit of their gall, which to most of them is the sole means of their feeding,) that they may not starve for me, I shall gorge
them once more with this digression somewhat larger than before : nothing troubled or offended at the working upward of their sale-venom thereupon, though it happen to asperse me; being, it seems, their best livelihood, and the only use or good digestion that their sick and perishing minds can make of truth charitably told them.
However, to the benefit of others much more worth the gainwhether the king or the bishop is to be thought accountable for it, there was no great harm in borrowing a good passage out of a novel,- for in succeeding editions it was omitted ; and the author of “Vindiciæ Carolinæ,” observes (p. 27, 28.)—" It seems improbable that he to whom, as Solomon says of himself, “God had given to speak as he would, and conceive as is meet for the things to be spoken of,' should be guilty of so open a borrowing without some acknowledgment at least to the author. I said erewhile, that I saw and read a part of the king's book, the very morning after that execrable murder; to which I add this now,—and with that regard as if it were my last !—that it was not many days before I bought it myself, and frequently read it with the best attention I was capable of ; nor do I remember" (no wonder, he was now writing forty-two years after the circumstances took place)“to have met it in that quarto impression. And I have an octavo of a later edition now before me, in which it is not.” Its existence in the first edition having, however, been proved, it was next attempted to be shown that the opposite party had maliciously inserted it; but this absurd accusation is now generally abandoned, and there would, therefore, be no use in any longer insisting on the point.--ED.
ing, I shall proceed in my assertion; that if only but to taste wittingly of meat or drink offered to an idol be in the doctrine of St. Paul judged a pollution, much more must be his sin who takes a prayer so dedicated into his mouth, and offers it to God. Yet hardly it can be thought upon (though how sad a thing !) without some kind of laughter at the manner and solemn transaction of so gross a cozenage, that he, who had trampled over us so stately and so tragically, should leave the world at last so ridiculously in his exit, as to bequeath among his deifying friends that stood about him such a precious piece of mockery to be published by them, as must needs cover both his and their heads with shame, if they have any left. Certainly, they that will may now see at length how much they were deceived in him, and were ever like to be hereafter, who cared not, so near the minute of his death, to deceive his best and dearest friends with the trumpery such a prayer, not more secretly than shamefully purloined; yet given them as the royal issue of his own proper zeal. And sure it was the hand of God to let them fall, and be taken in such a foolish trap, as hath exposed them to all derision; if for nothing else, to throw contempt and disgrace in the sight of all men upon this his idolized book, and the whole rosary of his prayers; thereby testifying how little he accepted them from those who thought no better of the living God than of a buzzard idol, fit to be so served and worshipped
a in reversion, with the polluted orts and refuse of Arcadias and romances, without being able to discern the affront rather than the worship of such an ethnic prayer.
But leaving what might justly be offensive to God, it was a trespass also more than usual against human right, which commands, that every author should have the property of his own work reserved to him after death, as well as living. Many princes have been rigorous in laying taxes on their subjects by the head; but of any king heretofore that made a levy upon their wit, and seized it as his own legitimate, I have not whom besides to instance. True it is, I looked rather to have found him gleaning out of books written purposely to help devotion. And if in likelihood he have borrowed much more out of prayer-books than out of pastorals, then are these painted feathers, that set him off so gay among the people, to be thought few or none of them
But if from his divines he have borrowed nothing, nothing out of all the magazine, and the rheum of their mellifluous prayers and meditations, let them who now mourn for him as for Thammuz, them who howl in their pulpits, and by their howling declare themselves right wolves, remember and consider in the midst of their hideous faces, when they do only not cut their flesh for him like those rueful priests whom Elijah mocked; that he who was once their Ahab, now their Josiah, though feigning outwardly to reverence churchmen, yet here hath so extremely set at nought both them and their praying faculty, that being at a loss himself what to pray in captivity, he consulted neither with the liturgy, nor with the directory, but, neglecting the huge fardell of all their honeycomb devotions, went directly where he doubted not to find better praying to his mind with Pamela, in the Countess's Arcadia.
What greater argument of disgrace and ignominy could have been thrown with cunning upon the whole clergy, than that the king, among all his priestery, and all those numberless volumes of their theological distillations, not meeting with one man or book of that coat that could befriend him with a prayer in captivity, was forced to rob Sir Philip and his captive shepherdess of their heathen orisons, to supply in any fashion his miserable indigence, not of bread, but of a single prayer to God? I say therefore not of bread, for that want înay befall a good man, and yet not make him totally miserable: but he who wants a prayer to beseech God in his necessity, it is inexpressible how poor he is; far poorer
within himself than all his enemies can make him. And the unfitness, the indecency of that pitiful supply which he sought, expresses yet further the deepness of his poverty.
Thus much be said in general to his prayers, and in special to that Arcadian prayer used in his captivity; enough to undeceive us what esteem we are to set upon the rest. For he certainly, whose mind could serve him to seek a Christian prayer out of a pagan legend, and assume it for his own, might gather up the rest God knows from whence; one perhaps out of the French Astræa, another out of the Spanish Diana; Amadis and Palmerin could hardly scape him. Such a person we may be sure had it not in him to make
prayer of his own, or at least would excúse himself
the pains and cost of his invention, so long as such sweet rhapsodies of heathenism and knight-errantry could yield him
prayers. How dishonourable then, and how unworthy of a Christian king, were these ignoble shifts to seem holy, and to get a saintship among the ignorant and wretched people; to draw them by this deception, worse than all his former injuries, to go a whoring after him! And how unhappy, how forsook of grace, and unbeloved of God that people who resolve to know no more of piety or of goodness, than to account him their chief saint and martyr, whose bankrupt devotion came not honestly by his very prayers; but having sharked them from the mouth of a heathen worshipper, (detestable to teach him prayers !) sold them to those that stood and honoured him next to the Messiah, as his own heavenly compositions in adversity; for hopes no less vain and presumptuous (and death at that time so imminent upon him) than by these goodly reliques to be held a saint and martyr in opinion with the cheated people!
And thus far in the whole chapter we have seen and considered, and it cannot but be clear to all men, how, and for what ends, what concernments and necessities, the late king was no way induced, but every way constrained to call this last parliament; yet here in his first prayer he trembles not to avouch, as in the ears of God, “That he did it with an upright intention to his glory, and his people's good :” of which dreadful attestation, how sincerely meant, God, to whom it was avowed, can only judge; and he hath judged already, and hath written his impartial sentence in characters legible to all Christendom; and besides hath taught us, that there be some, whom he hath given over to delusion, whose very mind and conscience is defiled; of whom St. Paul to Titus makes mention.
CHAPTER II. Upon the Earl of Strafford's Death. This next chapter is a penitent confession of the king, and the strangest, if it be well weighed, that ever was auricular. For he repents here of giving his consent, though most unwillingly, to the most seasonable and solemn piece of justice, that had been done of many years in the land: but his sole
conscience thought the contrary. And thus was the welfare, the safety, and, within a little, the unanimous demand of three populous nations, to have attended still on the singularity of one man's opinionated conscience; if men had always been so tame and spiritless, and had not unexpectedly found the grace to understand, that, if his conscience were so narrow and peculiar to itself, it was not fit his authority should be so ample and universal over others : for certainly a private conscience sorts not with a public calling, but declares that person rather meant by nature for a private fortune. And this also we may take for truth, that he, whose conscience thinks it sin to put to death a capital offender, will as oft think it meritorious to kill a righteous person.
But let us hear what the sin was, that lay so sore upon him, and, as one of his prayers given to Dr. Juxon testifies, to the very day of his death; it was his signing the bill of Strafford's execution ; a man whom all men looked upon as one of the boldest and most impetuous instruments that the king had, to advance any violent or illegal design.* He
* Clarendon, with his usual felicity, when prejudice stands not in the way, paints the character of Strafford; and from his portrait the reader, who consults his History, (voi. i. p. 455, sqq.) and diligently compares therewith what other authors have written of him, must inevitably perceive that he was a bold bad man, haughty, ambitious, revengeful, implacable; one who aimed at distinction for the most selfish of purposes, and obtaining, used it to gratify his malignant passions. The fierce prosecution of his private feud with Lord Savill, one whose old age be ungenerously insulted, would of itself, if other proofs were wanting, sufficiently disclose the temper of the man. But the historian observes, that his “successes, applied to a nature too elate and arrogant of itself, and a quicker progress into the greatest employments and trust, made him more transported with disdain of other men, and more contemning the forms of business, than haply he would have been, if he had met with some interruptions in the beginning, and had passed in a more leisurely gradation to the office of a statesman." « Of all his passions, his pride was most predominant; which a moderate exercise of ill fortune might have corrected and reformed; and which was by the hand of heaven strangely punished, by bringing his destruction upon him by two things that he most despised-THE PEOPLE, and Sir Harry Vane.” Upon this passage Warburton remarks :-“His ambition, pride, and appetite for revenge, were all exorbitant. His parts were of the first rate, and these solely directed to the gratificution of his passions. What wonder then, when men found him in the station of prime-minister, they should never think themselves safe while he continued there ?" (Clarendon's History, vii. 537.) Such a character, drawn by two writers not over friendly to freedom, will prepare the reader the more readily to enter into Milton's views of Strafford. The obscure servile author of the “ Vindiciæ Carolinæ,” (p. 29–36,) imagines he has, by