Page images

happy father and his son at Tower-hill, knew not the like fate attended him before his own palace-gate; and as little knew whether aftertimes reserve not a greater infamy to the story of his own life and reign?

He says but over again in his prayer what his sermon hath preached : how acceptably to those in heaven we leave to be decided by that precept, which forbids“ vain repetitions." Sure enough it lies as heavy as he can lay it upon the head of poor Hotham. Needs he will fasten upon God a piece of revenge as done for his sake; and take it for a favour, before he knew it was intended him: which in his closet had been excusable, but in a written and published prayer too presumptuous. Ecclesiastes* hath a right name for such kind of sacrifices.

Going on he prays thus : “ Let not thy justice prevent the objects and opportunities of my mercy, To folly, or to blasphemy, or to both, shall we impute this ? Shall the justice of God give place, and serve to glorify the mercies of a man? All other men, who know what they ask, desire of God that their doings may tend to his glory; but in this prayer God is required, that his justice would forbear to prevent, and as good have said to intrench upon the glory of a man's mercy. If God forbear his justice, it must be, sure, to the magnifying of his own mercy: how then can any

mortal man, without presumption little less than impious, take the boldness to as that glory out of his hand ? It may be doubted now by them who understand religion, whether the king were more unfortunate in this his prayer, or Hotham in those his sufferings.

CHAPTER IX. Upon the listing and raising Armies, fc. It were an endless work to walk side by side with the verbosity of this chapter; only to what already hath not been spoken, convenient answer shall be given. He begins again with tumults: all demonstration of the people's love and loyalty to the parliament was tumult; their petitioning tumult; * Milton alludes, perhaps, in this place, to Ecclesiastes

, x. 13 :-“The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness; and the end of his talk is mischievous madness.”—ED.

their defensive armies were but listed tumults; and will take no notice that those about him, those in a time of peace

listed into his own house, were the beginners of all these tumults ; abusing and assaulting not only such as came peaceably to the parliament at London, but those that came petitioning to the king himself at York. Neither did they abstain from doing violence and outrage to the messengers sent from parliament; he himself either countenancing or conniving at them.

He supposes that “ his recess gave us confidence, that he might be conquered.” Other men suppose both that and all things else, who knew him neither by nature warlike, nor experienced, nor fortunate; so far was any man, that discerned aught, from esteeming him unconquerable; yet such are readiest to embroil others. “ But he had a soul invincible.” What praise is that? The stomach of a child is ofttimes invincible to all correction. The unteachable man hath a soul to all reason and good advice invincible; and he who is intractable, he whom nothing can persuade, may boast himself invincible; whenas in some things to be overcome, is more honest and laudable than to conquer.

He labours to have it thought, “ that his fearing God more than man” was the ground of his sufferings; but he should have known that a good principle not rightly understood may prove as hurtful as a bad; and his fear of God may be as faulty as a blind zeal. He pretended to fear God more than the parliament, who never urged him to do otherwise; he should also have feared God more than he did his courtiers, and the bishops, who drew him as they pleased to things inconsistent with the fear of God. Thus boasted Saul to have “ performed the commandment of God," and stood in it against Samuel ; but it was found at length, that he had feared the people more than God, in saving those fat oxen for the worship of God, which were appointed for destruction. Not much unlike, if not much worse, was that fact of his, who, for fear to displease his court and mongrel clergy, with the dissolutest of the people, upheld in the church of God, while his power lasted, those beasts of Amalec, the prelates,*

* It is customary with the ignorant and narrow-souled to confound the cause of religion with the cause of the bishops and the clergy ; though we have here a proof that the most holy and saintly of men may hold episcopacy in abhorrence, as a mere political engine for perpetuating bad govern

against the advice of his parliament and the example of all reformation ; in this more inexcusable than Saul, that Saul was at length convinced, he to the hour of death fixed in his false persuasion ; and soothes himself in the flattering peace of an erroneous and obdurate conscience ; singing to his soul vain psalms of exultation, as if the parliament bad assailed his reason with the force of arms, and not he on the contrary their reason with his arms; which hath been proved already, and shall be more hereafter.

He twits them with “ bis acts of grace ;” proud, and unselfknowing words in the mouth of any king, who affects not to be a god, and such as ought to be as odious in the ears of a free nation. For if they were unjust acts, why did he grant them as of grace? If just, it was not of his grace, but of his duty and his oath to grant them. “A glorious king he would be, though by his sufferings :" but that can never be to him whose sufferings are his own doings. He feigns "a hard choice" put upon him, “ either to kill his subjects, or be killed.” Yet never was king less in danger of any

violence from his subjects, till he unsheathed his sword against them; nay, long after that time, when he had spilt the blood of thousands, they had still his person in a foolish veneration.

He complains “ that civil war must be the fruits of his seventeen years reigning with such a measure of justice, peace, plenty, and religion, as all nations either admired or envied.” For the justice we had, let the council-table, star-chamber, high-commission speak the praise of it; not forgetting the unprincely usage, and as far as might be, the abolishing of parliaments, the displacing of honest judges, the sale of offices, bribery, and exaction, not found out to be punished, but to be shared in with impunity for the time to come. number the extortions, the oppressions, the public robberies and rapines committed on the subject both by sea and land, under various pretences? their possessions also taken from them, one while as forest-land, another while as crown-land ; nor were their goods exempted, no, not the bullion in the ment. Hooker had long ago proved, as Warburton observes, that episcopacy is of human institution; and with much liberality the bishop treats contemptuously, as a silly superstition, the reverence of Charles I. for the Church of England.-ED.

Who can

[ocr errors]

mint; piracy was become a project owned and authorized against the subject.

For the peace we had, what peace was that which drew out the English to a needless and dishonourable voyage against the Spaniard at Cales ? Or that which lent our shipping to a treacherous and antichristian war against the poor protestants of Rochelle + our suppliants ? What peace was that which fell to rob the French by sea, to the embarring of all our merchants in that kingdom ? which brought forth that unblest expedition to the Isle of Rhé,* doubtful whether more calamitous in the success, or in the design, betraying all the flower of our military youth and best commanders to a shameful surprisal and execution. This was the peace we had, and the peace we gave, whether to friends or to foes abroad. And if at home any peace were intended us, what meant those Irish billetted soldiers in all parts of the kingdom, and the design of German horse to subdue us in our peaceful houses ?

* Mr. D’Israeli, in his article on the Duke of Buckingham, has a curious pasquinade on this inglorious event, which he introduces by the following remarks :-“ The war with Spain was clamoured for; and an expedition to Cadiz, in which the duke was reproached by the people for not taking the command, as they supposed, from deficient spirit, only ended in our undisciplined soldiers, under bad commanders, getting drunk in the Spanish cellars, insomuch that not all had the power to run away. On this expedition, some verses were handed about, which probably are now first printed, from a manuscript letter of the times; a political pasquinade which shows the utter silliness of this, ' Ridiculus Mus.'

« There was a crow sat on a stone,
He flew away—and there was none !
There was a man that ran a race,
When he ran fast he ran apace!
There was a maid that ate an apple,
When she ate two—she ate a couple !
There was an ape sat on a tree,
When he fell down-then down fell he !
There was a fleet that went to Spain,
When it returned—it came again!""

(Curiosities of Literature, iii. 445.) + The Duke of Buckingham is said to have been making preparations for succouring Rochelle, when he was assassinated by Felton, (Clarendon, i, 49.) All thoughts, however, of affording aid to the protestants were abandoned after his death ; (i. 80 ;) and in 1641, the parliament, in their“ Remonstrance,” reproached the king with “ the loss of Rochelle, by first suppressing their fleet with his own royal ships, by which the protestant religion in France infinitely suffered.” (ii. 50.) This is afterwards alluded to by the historian as one of the causes that led the Huguenots to side with the parliament against the court. (iii. 363.) If we may give credit to Gerbier, a foreign tool of the duke's, there was at one time a real intention, at least on Buckingham's part, to relieve the Rochellois. See his relation in D’Israeli, (Curiosities of Literature, iii. 477, sqq.) who adds an epitaph on the duke, which contains as much truth as bitterness :

“ If idle trav’llers ask, who liech here,

Let the duke's tomb this for inscription bear :
Paint Cales and Rhé, make French and Spanish laugh,
Mix England's shame and there's his epitaph.”

For our religion, where was there a more ignorant, profane, and vicious clergy, learned in nothing but the antiquity of their pride, their covetousness, and superstition ? + whose unsincere and leavenous doctrine, corrupting the people, first taught them looseness, then bondage ; loosening them from all sound knowledge and strictness of life, the more to fit them for the bondage of tyranny and superstition. So that what was left us for other nations not to pity, rather than admire or envy, all those seventeen years, no wise man could see. For wealth and plenty in a land where justice reigns not is no argument of a flourishing state, but of a nearness rather to ruin or commotion.

These were not "some miscarriages" only of government, “which might escape,” but a universal distemper, and reducement of law to arbitrary power; not through the evil counsels of“ some men,” but through the constant course and practice of all that were in highest favour: whose worst actions frequently avowing he took upon himself; and what faults did not yet seem in public to be originally his, such care he took by professing and proclaming openly, as made them all at

* This expedition against the island of Rhé is described by Clarendon as more unsuccessful and unfortunate than that of Cadiz. (History, &c. i. 6.) -En.

+ Clarendon, though he makes a general eulogium on the order, admits that the clergy about Whitehall were occasionally guilty of much “indiscretion and folly ;" but is angry that one bad sermon should be more taken notice of than a hundred others, remarkable for their wisdom and sobriety. (i. 136.) Upon this Warburton justly remarks, that there was good reason for the distinction, “ because that one sermon was supported, cried up, and adopted by the court, while the hundred were neglected and discountenanced.” (vii. 518.)


« PreviousContinue »