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“I stayed at Whitehall, till I was driven away by shame more than fear." I retract not what I thought of the fiction, yet here, I must confess it lies too open. In his messages and declarations, nay, in the whole chapter next but one before this, he affirms, that “the danger wherein his wife, his children, and his own person” were by those tumults, was the main cause that drove him from Whitehall, and appeals to God as witness : he affirms here that it was “shame more than fear.” And Digby, who knew his mind as well as any, tells his new-listed guard, “that the principal cause of his majesty's going thence was to save them from being trod in the dirt.” From whence we may discern what false and frivolous excuses are avowed for truth, either in those declarations, or in this penitential book. Our forefathers were of that
severity of zeal to justice and their native liberty, against the proud contempt and misrule of their kings, that when Richard the Second departed but from a committee of lords, who sat preparing matter for the parliament not yet assembled, to the removal of his evil counsellors, they first vanquished and put to flight Robert de Vere, his chief favourite; and then, coming up to London with a huge army, required the king, then withdrawn for fear, but no further off than the Tower, to come to Westminster. Which he refusing, they told him flatly, that unless he came they would choose another. So high a crime it was accounted then for kings to absent themselves, not from a parliament, which none ever durst, but from any meeting of his peers and counsellors, which did but tend towards a parliament. Much less would they have suffered, that a king, for such trivial and various pretences, one while for fear of tumults, another while “for shame to see them,” should leave his regal station, and the whole kingdom bleeding to death of those wounds, which his own unskilful and perverse government had inflicted.
Shame then it was that drove him from the parliament, but the shame of what? Was it the shame of his manifold errors and misdeeds, and to see how weakly he had played the king ? No; “but to see the barbarous rudeness of those tumults to demand anything." We have started here another, and I believe the truest cause of his deserting the parliament. The worst and strangest of that “ Anything,
which the people then demanded, was but the unlording of bishops, and expelling them the house, and the reducing of church-discipline to a conformity with other protestant churches; this was the barbarism of those tumults: and that he might avoid the granting of those honest and pious demands, as well demanded by the parliament as the people, for this very cause more than for fear, by his own confession here, he left the city; and in a most tempestuous season forsook the helm and steerage of the commonwealth. This was that terrible “ Anything," from which his conscience and his reason chose to run, rather than not deny. To be importuned the removing of evil counsellors, and other grievances in church and state, was to him "an intolerable oppression.” If the people's demanding were so burdensome to him, what was his denial and delay of justice to them ?
But as the demands of his people were to him a burden and oppression, so was the advice of his parliament esteemed a bondage ; “Whose agreeing votes," as he affirms, not by any law or reason conclusive to his judgment.” For the law, it ordains a parliament to advise him in his great affairs; but if it ordain also, that the single judgment of a king shall out-balance all the wisdom of his parliament, it ordains that which frustrates the end of its own ordaining. For where the king's judgment may dissent, to the destruction, as it may happen, both of himself and the kingdom, their advice, and no further, is a most insufficient and frustraneous means to be provided by law in cases of so high concernment. And where the main and principal law of common preservation against tyranny is left so fruitless and infirin, there it must needs follow, that all lesser laws are to their several ends and purposes much more weak and ineffectual. For that nation would deserve to be renowned and chronicled for folly and stupidity, that should by law provide force against private and petty wrongs, advice only against tyranny and public ruin.
It being therefore most unlike a law, to ordain a remedy so slender and unlawlike, to be the utmost means of all public safety or prevention, as advice is, which may at any time be rejected by the sole judgment of one man, the king, and so unlike the law of England, which lawyers say is the
quintessence of reason and mature wisdom; we may conclude, that the king's negative voice was never any law, but an absurd and reasonless custom, begotten and grown up either from the flattery of basest times, or the usurpation of immoderate princes. Thus much to the law of it, by a better evidence than rolls and records— reason. But is it possible he should pretend also to reason, that the judgment of one man, not as a wise or good man, but as a king, and ofttimes a wilful, proud, and wicked king, should outweigh the prudence and all the virtue of an elected parliament? What an abusive thing were it then to summon parliaments, that by the major part of voices greatest matters may be there debated and resolved, whenas one single voice after that shall dash all their resolutions?
He attempts to give a reason why it should: “Because the whole parliaments represent not him in any kind.” But mark how little he advances; for if the parliament represent the whole kingdom, as is sure enough they do, then doth the king represent only himself; and if a king without his kingdom be in a civil sense nothing, then without or against the representative of his whole kingdom, he himself represents nothing; and by consequence his judgment and his negative is as good as nothing. And though we should allow him to be something, yet not equal or comparable to the whole kingdom, and so neither to them who represent it; much less that one syllable of his breath put into the scales should be more ponderous than the joint voice and efficacy of a whole parliament, assembled by election, and endued with the plenipotence of a free nation, to make laws, not to be denied laws; and with no more but “no!” a sleeveless reason, in the most pressing times of danger and disturbance to be sent home frustrate and remediless.
Yet here he maintains,“ to be no further bound to agree with the votes of both houses, than he sees them to agree with the will of God, with his just rights as a king, and the general good of his people.” Ås to the freedom of his
agreeing or not agreeing, limited with due bounds, no man reprehends it; this is the question here, or the miracle rather, why his only not agreeing should lay a negative bar and inhibition upon that which is agreed to by a whole parliament, though never so conducing to the public good or safety? To
know the will of God better than his whole kingdom, whence should he have it? Certainly his court-breeding and his perpetual conversation with flatterers * was but a bad school. To judge of his own rights could not belong to him, who had no right by law in any court to judge of so much as felony or treason, being held a party in both these cases, much more in this; and his rights however should give place to the general good, for which end all his rights were given him.
Lastly, to suppose a clearer insight and discerning of the general good, allotted to his own singular judgment, than to the parliament and all the people, and from that self-opinion of discerning, to deny them that good which they, being all freemen, seek earnestly and call for, is an arrogance, and iniquity beyond imagination rude and unreasonable; they undoubtedly having most authority to judge of the public good, who for that purpose are chosen out and sent by the people
* To declaim against the vices of courtiers, when those brought up among them, and who share their failings, describe and condemn them as the worst of mankind, were a pure waste of indignation, which should be reserved for those on whom contempt cannot fall. The sons of Clarendon, who touched as gingerly as their father on the faults of princes, and even in treating of courtiers seemed to fear the consequences of plain-speaking, dwell, nevertheless, in general terms, upon the base flattery and compliance by which monarchs are too commonly surrounded.
" Suadere principi quod oporteat, magni laboris ; assentatio erga principem quemcunque sine affectu peragitur, was a saying of Tacitus, and one of those that is perpetually verified. For we see, in all times, how compliance and flattery gets the better of honesty and plain-dealing. All men indeed love best those that dispute not with them; a misfortune, whilst it is among private persons, that is not so much taken notice of; but it becomes remarkable and grows a public calamity, when this uncomely obsequiousness is practised towards great princes, who are apt to mistake it for duty, and to prefer it before such advice as is really good for their service." (Preface to Clarendon's History, i. p. 14.) Here the reader will perceive that “great princes” does not mean princes with great qualities, but who happen to govern great nations ; for, were they truly great, the pitiful creatures that buzz about a court would never, by their “uncomely obsequiousness,” be able to impose upon their intellects. In the above passage the court glanced at is that of Charles I., of which Warburton says-“ Every now and then a story comes out which shows the court to have been exceedingly tyrannical, and abates all our wonder at the rage and malice of those that had been oppressed by it. It is a moot point which did the king most mischief, his court servants, whom he unreasonably indulged, or his country subjectó, whom he as unreasonably oppressed Gratitude had not the same influence on the affections of his servants, which thirst of revenge had on those who had been oppressed by their master.”—ED.
to advise him. And if it may be in him to see oft“ the major part of them not in the right,” had it not been more his modesty, to have doubted their seeing him more often in the wrong?
He passes to another reason of his denials : “ Because of some men's hydropic unsatiableness, and thirst of asking, the more they drank, whom no fountain of regal bounty * was able to overcome.” A comparison more properly bestowed on those that came to guzzle in his wine cellar, than on a freeborn people that came to claim in parliament their rights and liberties, which a king ought therefore to grant, because of right demanded; not to deny them for fear his bounty should be exhausted, which in these demands (to continue the same metaphor) was not so much as broached ; it being his duty, not his bounty, to grant these things. He who thus refuses to give us law, in that refusal gives us another law, which is his will, another name also, and another condition; of freemen to become his vassals.
Putting off the courtier, he now puts on the philosopher, and sententiously disputes to this effect,“ that reason ought to be used to men, force and terror to beasts; that he deserves to be a slave, who captivates the rational sovereignty of his soul and liberty of his will to compulsion; that he would not forfeit that freedom, which cannot be denied him as a king, because it belongs to him as a man and a Christian, though to preserve his kingdom; but rather die enjoying the empire of his soul, than live in such a vassalage as not to use his reason and conscience, to like or dislike as a king." Which words, of themselves, as far as they are sense, good and philosophical, yet in the mouth of him, who, to engross
* This cant about the bounty of despots is sure to be found in the mouth of every advocate for arbitrary power. Hume, speaking of the insurrection of the Norman barons, observes that those foreigners owed everything they possessed to the king's bounty ; meaning evidently to tax them with ingra. titude. But who put it into the Bastard's power to be bountiful? Or how can that be called bounty which is earned by toil and long services ? It was the valour and fidelity of those barons that had enabled the Conqueror to distribute the wealth of England ; and they had a right to share in the distribution. The king, therefore, gave them but their due; and they consequently owed him no obligation, or the obligation was mutual. In fact, the historian himself immediately proceeds to show how the tyrannical conduct of the king had alienated the affections of his companions in arms. -Ed.