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covery without the absolute continuance of a parliament. It had been else in vain to go about the settling of so great distempers, if he, who first caused the malady, might, when he pleased, reject the remedy. Notwithstanding all which, that he granted both these acts unwillingly, and as a mere passive instrument, was then visible even to most of those men who now will see nothing.
At passing of the former act he himself concealed not his unwillingness; and testifying a general dislike of their actions, which they then proceeded in with great approbation of the whole kingdom, he told them with a masterly brow, that “ by this act he had obliged them above what they had deserved,” and gave a piece of justice to the commonwealth six times short of his predecessors, as if he had been giving some boon or begged office to a sort of his desertless grooms.
That he passed the latter act against his will, no man in reason can hold it questionable. For if the February before he made so dainty, and were so loath to bestow a parliament once in three years upon the nation, because this had so opposed his courses, was it likely that the May following he should bestow willingly on this parliament an indissoluble sitting, when they had offended him much more by cutting short and impeaching of high-treason his chief favourites ? It was his fear then, not his favour, which drew from him that act, lest the parliament, incensed by his conspiracies against them, about the same time discovered, should with the people have resented too heinously those his doings, if to the suspicion of their danger from him he had also added the
denial of this only means to secure themselves.
From these acts therefore in which he glories, and wherewith so oft he upbraids the parliament, he cannot justly expect to reap aught but dishonour and dispraise; as being both unwillingly granted, and one granting much less than was before allowed by statute, the other being a testimony of his violent and lawless custom, not only to break privileges, but whole parliaments ; from which enormity they were constrained to bind him.first of all his predecessors; never any before him having given like causes of distrust and jealousy to his people. As for this parliament, how far he was from being advised by them as he ought, let his own words express,
He taxes them with“ undoing what they found well done:'' and yet knows they undid nothing in the church, but lord bishops, liturgies, ceremonies, high-commission, judged worthy by all true protestants to be thrown out of the church. They undid nothing in the state but irregular and grinding courts, the main grievances to be removed ; and if these were the things which in his opinion they found well done, we may again from hence be informed with what unwillingness he removed them; and that those gracious acts, whereof so frequently he makes mention, may be Englished more properly acts of fear and dissimulation against his mind and conscience.
The bill preventing dissolution of this parliament he calls an unparelleled act, out of the extreme confidence that his subjects would not make ill use of it.” But was it not a greater confidence of the people, to put into one man's hand so great a power, till he abused it, as to summon and dissolve parliaments? He would be thanked for trusting them, and ought to thank them rather for trusting him: the trust issuing first from them, not from him.
And that it was a mere trust, and not his prerogative, to call and dissolve parliaments at his pleasure; and that parliaments were not to be dissolved, till all petitions were heard, all grievances redressed, is not only the assertion of this parliament, but of our ancient law-books, which aver it to be an unwritten law of common right, so engraven in the hearts of our ancestors, and by them so constantly enjoyed and claimed, as that it needed not enrolling. And if the Scots in their declaration could charge the king with breach of their laws for breaking up that parliament without their consent, while matters of greatest moment were depending; it were unreasonable to imagine, that the wisdom of England should be so wanting to itself through all ages, as not to provide by some known law, written or unwritten, against the not calling, or the arbitrary dissolving, of parliaments; or that they who ordained their summoning twice a year, or as
oft need required, did not tacitly enact also, that as necessity of affairs called them, so the same necessity should keep them undissolved, till that were fully satisfied.
Were it not for that, parliaments, and all the fruit and benefit we receive by having them, would turn soon to mere
abusion. It appears then, that if this bill of not dissolving were an unparalleled act, it was a known and common right, which our ancestors under other kings enjoyed as firmly as if it had been graven in marble; and that the infringement of this king first brought it into a written act : who now boasts that as a great favour done us, which his own less fidelity than was in former kings constrained us only of an old undoubted right to make a new written act. But what needed written acts, whenas anciently it was esteemed part of his crown oath, not to dissolve parliaments till all grievances were considered ? whereupon the old “ Modi of Parliament” calls it flat perjury, if he dissolve them before: as I find cited in a book mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, to which and other law tractates I refer the more lawyerly mooting of this point, which is neither my element, normy proper work here; since the book which I ave to answer, pretends reason, not authorities and quotations : and I hold reason to be the best arbitrator, and the law of law itself.
It is true, that “good subjects think it not just, that the king's condition should be worse by bettering theirs.” But then the king must not be at such a distance from the people in judging what is better and what worse; which might have been agreed, had he known (for his own words condemn him)
as well with moderation to use, as with earnestness to desire his own advantages.” “A continual parliament, he
A thought, would keep the commonwealth in tune.” Judge, commonwealth! what proofs he gave, that this boasted profession was ever in his thought. “ Some," saith he,“ gave out, that I repented me of that settling act.” His own actions gave it out beyond all supposition; for doubtless it repented him to have established that by law, which he went about so soon after to abrogate by the sword.
He calls those acts, which he confesses “tended to their good, not more princely than friendly contributions.” As if to do his duty were of courtesy, and the discharge of his trust a parcel of his liberality; so nigh lost in his esteem was the birthright of our liberties, that to give them back again upon demand, stood at the mercy of his contribution. doubts not but the affections of his people will compensate his sufferings for those acts of confidence:" and imputes his
sufferings to a contrary cause. Not his confidence, but his distrust, was that which brought him to those sufferings, from the time that he forsook his parliament; and trusted them never the sooner for what he tells “of their piety and religious strictness," but rather hated them as puritans, whom he always sought to extirpate.
He would have it believed, that “ to bind his hands by these acts, argued a very short foresight of things, and extreme fatuity of mind in him,” if he had meant a war. If we should conclude so, that were not the only argument : neither did it argue that he meant peace; knowing that what he granted for the present out of fear, he might as soon repeal by force, watching his time, and deprive them the fruit of those acts, if his own designs, wherein he put his trust, took effect.
Yet he complains, “ that the tumults threatened to abuse all acts of grace, and turn them into wantonness." I would they had turned his wantonness into the grace of not abusing scripture. Was this becoming such a saint as they would make him, to adulterate those sacred words from the
grace of God to the acts of his own grace? Herod was eaten up of worms for suffering others to compare his voice to the voice of God; but the borrower of this phrase gives much more cause of jealousy, that he likened his own acts of grace to the acts of God's grace.
From profaneness he scarce comes off with perfect sense. “I was not then in a capacity to make war," therefore, “I intended not.” “I was not in a capacity,” therefore“ I could not have given my enemies greater advantage, than by so unprincely inconstancy to have scattered them by arms, whom but lately I had settled by parliament.” What place could there be for his inconstancy in that thing whereto he was in no capacity ? Otherwise his inconstancy was not so unwonted, or so nice, but that it would have easily found pretences to scatter those in revenge, whom he settled in fear.
“ It had been a course full of sin, as well as of hazard and dishonour.” True; but if those considerations withheld him not from other actions of like nature, how can we believe they were of strength sufficient to withhold him from this? And that they withheld him not, the event soon taught us. “ His letting some men go up to the pinnacle of the temple, was a temptation to them to cast him down headlong." 'In
this simile we have himself compared to Christ, the parliament to the devil, and his giving them that act of settling, to his letting them go up to the pinnacle of the temple.' A tottering and giddy act rather than a settling. This was goodly use made of scripture in his solitudes : but it was no pinnacle of the temple, it was a pinnacle of Nebuchadnezzar's palace, from whence he and monarchy fell headlong together.
He would have others see that “all the kingdoms of the world are not worth gaining by ways of sin which hazard the soul ;” and hath himself left nothing unhazarded to keep three. He concludes with sentences, that, rightly scanned, make not so much for him as against him, and confesses, that “the act of settling was no sin of his will;" and we easily believe him, for it hath been clearly proved a sin of his unwillingness. With his orisons I meddle not, for he appeals to a high audit. This yet may be noted, that at his prayers he had before him the sad presage of his ill success,
as of a dark and dangerous storm, which never admitted his return to the port from whence he set out.” Yet his prayer-book no sooner shut, but other hopes flattered him ; and their flattering was his destruction.
CHAPTER VI. Upon his Retirement from Westminster. The simile wherewith he begins I was about to have found
I fault with, as in a garb somewhat more poetical than for a statist: but meeting with many strains of like dress in other of his essays, and hearing him reported a more diligent reader of poets than of politicians, I began to think that the whole book might perhaps be intended a piece of poetry. The words are good, the fiction smooth and cleanly; there wanted only rhyme, and that, they say, is bestowed upon it lately. But to the argument.
* This, probably, is a mere joke ; but prefixed to the Eikon Basilikè, we find a copy of verses, which, if really written by Charles I., prove that he profited but little by the study of Shakspeare; for, in spite of a few poetical expressions, this triplet ballad is upon the whole very sad stuff. Like the rest of the book, it smacks more of the crosier than the sceptre. It is entitled, “ Majesty in Misery ; or, An Imploration to the King of Kings.” Written by his late majesty King Charles I., of blessed memory, during his captivity at Carisbrooke Castle, Anno Domi. 1648.