Page images

the head of the commonwealth; the eldest son being infected with the sin of his father, against the father of his country.” These petty glosses and conceits on the high and secret judgments of God, besides the boldness of unwarrantable commenting, * are so weak and shallow, and so like the quibbles of a court sermon, that we may safely reckon them either fetched from such a pattern, or that the hand of some household priest foisted them in; lest the world should forget how much he was a disciple of those cymbal doctors. But that argument, by which the author would commend them to us, discredits them the more; for if they be so “obvious to every fancy,” the more likely to be erroneous, and to misconceive the mind of those high secrecies, whereof they presume to determine. For God judges not by human fancy.

But however God judged Hotham, yet he had the king's pity. But mark the reason, how preposterous; so far he had his pity," as he thought he at first acted more against the light of his conscience, than many other men in the same cause.” Questionless they who act against conscience, whether at the bar of human or divine justice, are pitied least of all. These are the common grounds and verdicts of nature, whereof when he who hath the judging of a whole nation is found destitute under_such a governor that nation must needs be miserable. By the way he jerks at some men's reforming to models of religion, and that they think all is gold of piety, that doth but glister with a show of zeal.” We know his meaning, and apprehend how little hope there could be of him from such language as this; but are sure that the piety of his prelatic model glistered more upon the posts and pillars which their zeal and fervency gilded over, than in the true works of spiritual edification.

“ He is sorry that Hotham felt the justice of others, and fell not rather into the hands of his mercy.” But to clear

* It is not at all surprising to find the author of the Eikon Basilikè, whether king or prelate, indecently triumphing over the fate of these unhappy men, whose fluctuations of principle, though favourable to the court, could not fail to excite even his contempt. “ I cannot but observe,” he says, “ how God, not long after, so pleaded and avenged my cause, in the eye of the world, that the most wilfully blind cannot avoid the displeasure to see it, and with some remorse and fear to own it, as a notable stroke and prediction of divine vengeance." It may be remarked, that wicked men in authority always pretend to think heaven greatly interested in pleading their cause, and avenging anything and everything that offends them.-ED.

[ocr errors]

that, he should have shown us what mercy he had ever used to such as fell into his hands* before, rather than what mercy he intended to such as never could come to ask it. Whatever mercy one man might have expected, it is too well known the whole nation found none; though they besought it often, and so humbly; but had been swallowed up in blood and ruin, to set his private will above the parliament, had not his strength failed him. “Yet clemency he counts a debt, which he ought to pay to those that crave it; since we pay not anything to God for his mercy but prayers and praises. " By this reason we ought as freely to pay all things to all men; for all that we receive from God, what do we pay for, more than


and praises? We looked for the discharge of his office, the payment of his duty to the kingdom, and are paid court-payment, with empty sentences that have the sound of gravity, but the significance of nothing pertinent.

Yet again after his mercy past and granted, he returns back to give sentence upon Hotham; and whom he tells us he would so fain have saved alive, him he never leaves killing with a repeated condemnation, though dead long since. It was ill that somebody stood not near to whisper him, that a reiterating judge is worse than a tormentor. pities him, he rejoices not, he pities him " again; but still is sure to brand him at the tail of his pity with some ignominious mark, either of arnbition or disloyalty. And with a kind of censorious pity aggravates rather than lessens or conceals the fault : to pity thus, is to triumph. He assumes to foreknow, that “ aftertimes will dispute whether Hotham were more infamous at Hull, or at Tower-hill.” What knew he of aftertimes, who, while he sits judging and censuring without end the fate of that un

* What opinion was entertained of his mercy we may learn from the following anecdote related by his apologist. “ Before his going (to Hampton Court) he sent to the Earls of Essex and Holland to attend him in his journey ; who were both by their places, the one being lord chamberlain of his household, the other the first gentleman of the bed-chamber, or groom of the stole, obliged to that duty. The Earl of Essex resolved to go; and to that purpose was making himself ready, when the Earl of Holland came to him, and privately dissuaded him; assuring him that if they two went, they should be both murdered at Hampton Court.” (Clarendon, ii. 163.) Upon this Warburton significantly remarks :-" The Earl of Essex was no fool. What an idea must this give us of the king's known character!. (Notes on Clarendon, vii. 584.)-ED.

66 He

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

* 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.

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


be 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 had 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 “ his 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

[ocr errors]

Who can


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.

« PreviousContinue »