Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

he put garrisons of German horse and Irish foot in many towns and cities, and that in time of peace.

Do

you think he does not begin to look like a tyrant? In which very thing, as in many other particulars, which you have formerly given me occasion to instance, though you scorn to have Charles compared with so cruel a tyrant as Nero, he resembled him extremely much. For Nero likewise often threatened to take away the senate. Besides, he bore extreme hard upon the consciences of good men,

and compelled them to the use of ceremonies and superstitious worship, borrowed from popery, and by him reintroduced into the church. They that would not conform, were imprisoned or banished. He made war upon the Scots twice for no other cause than that. By all these actions he has surely deserved the name of a tyrant once over at least.

Now I will tell you why the word traitor was put into his indictment. When he assured his parliament by promises, by proclamations, by imprecations, that he had no design against the state, at that very time did he list Papists in Ireland; he sent a private embassy to the king of Denmark to beg assistance from him of arms, horses, and men, expressly against the parliament; and was endeavouring to raise an army first in England, and then in Scotland. To the English he promised the plunder of the city of London ; to the Scots, that the four northern counties should be added to Scotland, if they would but help him to get rid of the parliament, by what means soever. These projects not succeeding, he sent over one Dillon, a traitor, into Ireland with private instructions to the natives, to fall suddenly upon all the English that inhabited there. These are the most remarkable instances of his treasons, not taken up upon hearsay and idle reports, but discovered by letters under his own hand and seal. And finally I suppose no man will deny that he was a murderer, by whose order the Irish took arms, and put to death with most exquisite torments above a hundred thousand English, who lived peaceably by them, and without any apprehension of danger; and who raised so great a civil war in the other two kingdoms. Add to all this, that at the treaty in the Isle of Wight the king openly took upon himself the guilt of the war, and cleared the parliament in the confession he made there, which is publicly known. Thus you have in short why King Charles was adjudged a iyrant, a traitor, and a murderer.“But,” say you, “why was he not declared so before, neither in that solemn league and covenant, nor afterwards when he was delivered to them, either by the Presbyterians or the Independents, but on the other hand was received as a king ought to be, with all reverence?” This very thing is sufficient to persuade any rational man, that the parliament entered not into any councils of quite deposing the king, but as their last refuge, after they had suffered and undergone all that possibly they could, and had attempted all other ways and means. You alone endeavour maliciously to lay that to their charge, which to all good men cannot but evidence their great patience, moderation, and perhaps a too long forbearing with the king's pride and arrogance. But“ in the month of August, before the king suffered, the house of commons, which then bore the only sway, and was governed by the Independents, wrote letters to the Scots, in which they acquainted them, that they never intended to alter the form of government that had obtained so long in England under king, lords, and commons.” You may see from hence, how little reason there is to ascribe the deposing of the king to the principles of the Independents. They, that never used to dissemble and conceal their tenets, even then, when they had the sole management of affairs, profess, “ That they never intended to alter the government.” But if afterwards a thing came into their minds, which at first they intended not, why might they not take such a course, though before not intended, as appeared most advisable, and most for the nation's interest ?Especially when they found, that the king could not possibly be entreated or induced to assent to those just demands, that they had made from time to time, and which were always the same from first to last. He persisted in those perverse sentiments with respect to religion and his own right, which he had all along espoused, and which were so destructive to us; not in the least altered from the man that he was, when in peace and war he did us all so much mischief. If he assented to any thing, he gave no obscure hints, that he did it against his will, and that whenever he should come into power again, he would look upon such his assent as null and void. The same thing his son declared by writing under his hand, when in those days he run away with part of the fleet, and so did the king himself by letters to some of his own party in London. In the mean time, against the avowed sense of the parliament, he struck up a private peace with the Irish, the most barbarous enemies imaginable to England, upon base dishonorable terms; but whenever he invited the English to treaties of peace, at those very times, with all the power he bad, and interest he could make, he was preparing for war. In this case, what should they do, who were entrusted with the care of the government? Ought they to have betrayed the safety of us all to our most bitter adversary ? Or would you have had them left us to undergo the calamities of another seven years' war, not to say worse? God put a better mind into them, of preferring, pursuant to that very solemn league and covenant, their religion and liberties, before those thoughts they once had, of not rejecting the king; for they had not gone so far as to vote it; all which they saw at last, (though indeed later than they might have done,) could not possibly subsist, as long as the king continued king. The parliament ought and must of necessity be entirely free, and at liberty to provide for the good of the nation, as occasion requires; nor ought they so to be wedded to their first sentiments, as to scruple the altering their minds, for their own, or the nation's good, if God put an opportunity into their hands of procuring it. But“ the Scots were of another opinion; for they, in a letter to Charles, the king's son, call his father a most sacred prince, and the putting him to death a most execrable villainy." Do not you talk of the Scots, whom you know not; we know them well enough, and know the time when they called that same king a most execrable person, a murderer and a traitor; and the putting a tyrant to death a most sacred action.

Then you pick holes in the king's charge, as not being properly penned ; and you ask " why we needed to call him a traitor and a murderer, after we had styled him a tyrant ; since the word tyrant includes all the crimes that may be ;” and then you explain to us grammatically and critically, what a tyrant is. Away with those trifles, you pedagogue, which that one definition of Aristotle's, that has lately been cited, will utterly confound; and teach such a doctor as you, that the word tyrant (for all your concern is barely to have some understanding of words) may be applied to one, who is neither a traitor nor a murderer. But the laws of England do not make it treason in the king, to stir up sedition against himself or the people.” Nor do they say, that the parliament can be guilty of treason by deposing a bad king, nor that any parliament ever was so, though they have often done it; but our laws plainly and clearly declare, that a king Nay violate, diminish, nay, and wholly lose his royalty. For that expression in the law of St. Edward, of “losing the name of a king,” signifies neither inore nor less, than being deprived of the kingly office and dignity; which befel Chilperic king of France, whose example for illustration sake is taken notice of in the law itself. There is not a lawyer amongst us, that can deny, but that the highest treason may be committed against the kingdom as well as against the king. I appeal to Glanville himself, whom you cite, “ If any man attempt to put the king to death, or raise sedition in the realin, it is high treason.” So that attempt of some papists to blow up the parliament-house, and the lords and commons there with gunpowder, was by King James hiinself, and both houses of parliament, declared to be high treason, not against the king only, but against the parliament and the whole kingdom. It would be to no purpose to quote more of our statutes, to prove so clear a truth ; which yet I could easily do. For the thing itself is ridiculous, and absurd to imagine, that high treason may be committed against the king, and not against the people, for whose good, nay, and by whose leave, as I may say, the king is what he is : so that you babble over so many statutes of ours to no purpose ; you toil and wallow in our ancient law-books to no purpose ; for the laws themselves stand or fall by authority of parliament, who always had power to confirm or repeal them; and the parliament is the sole judge of what is rebellion, what high treason, (læsa majestas,) and what not. Majesty never was vested to that degree in the person of the king, as not to be more conspicuous and more august in parliament, as I have often shown : but who can endure to hear such a senseless fellow, such a French inou ebank as you, decla what our laws are? And, you English fugitives! so many bishops, doctors, lawyers, who pretend that all learning and ingenuous literature is fled out of England with yourselves, was there not one of you that could defend the king's cause and your own, and that in good Latin also, to be submitted to the judgment of other nations, but that this brainsick, beggarly Frenchman must be hired to undertake the defence of a poor indigent king, surrounded with so many infant-priests and doctors? This very thing, I assure you, will be a great imputation to you amongst foreigners; and you will be thought deservedly to have lost that cause, you were so far from being able to defend by force of arms, as that you cannot so much as write in behalf of it.

But now I come to you again, good man Goosecap, who scribble so finely; if at least you are come to yourself again : for I find you here towards the latter end of your book in a deep sleep, and dreaming of some voluntary death or other, that is nothing to the purpose. Then you " dený, that it is possible for a king in his right wits to einbroil his people in seditions, to betray his own forces to be slaughtered by enemies, and raise factions against himself.” All which things having been done by many kings, and particularly by Charles the late king of England, you will no longer doubt, I hope, especially being addicted to Stoicism, but that all tyrants, as well as profligate villains, are downright mad. Hear what Horace says, “Whoever through a senseless stupidity, or any other cause whatsoever, hath his understanding so blinded as not to discern truth, the Stoics account of him as of a madman: and such are whole nations, such are kings and princes, such are all mankind; except those very few that are wise. So that if you would clear King Charles from the imputation of acting like a madman, you must first vindicate his integrity, and show that he never acted like an ill man. “But a king," you say, “cannot commit treason against bis own subjects and vassals.' In the first place, since we are as free as any people under heaven, we will not be imposed upon by any barbarous custom of any other nation whatsoever. In the second place, suppose we had been the king's vassals; that relation would not have obliged us to enVol. II.

16

L

dure a tyrant to reign and lord it over us. All subjection to magistrates, as our own laws declare, is circumscribed, and confined within the bounds of honesty, and the public good. Read Leg. Hen. I. Cap. 55. The obliga. tion betwixt a lord and his tenants is mutual, and remains so long as the lord protects his tenant; (this is all our lawyers tell us ;) but if the lord be too severe and cruel to his tenant, and do him some heinous injury, " The whole relation betwixt them, and whatever obligation the tenant is under by having done homage to his lord, is utterly dissolved and extinguished." These are the very words of Bracton and Fleta. So that in some case, the law itself warrants even a slave, or a vassal, to oppose his lord, and allows the slave to kill him, if he vanquish him in battle. If a city or a whole nation may not lawfully take this course with a tyrant, the condition of freemen will be worse than that of slaves.

Then you go about to excuse King Charles's shedding of innocent blood, partly by murders committed by other kings, and partly by some instances of men put to death by them lawfully. For the matter of the Irish massacre, you refer the reader to 'Eixw Barcaxr; and I refer you to Eiconoclastes. The town of Rochel being taken, and the townsmen betrayed, assistance shown, but not afforded thein, you will not have laid at Charles's door; nor have I any thing to say, whether he was faulty in that business or not; he did mischief enough at bome; we need not inquire into what misdemeanours he was guilty of abroad. But you in the mean time would make all the protestant churches, that have at any time defended theinselves by force of arms against princes, who were professed enemies of their religion, to have been guilty of rebellion. Let them consider how much it concerns them for the maintaining their ecclesiastical discipline, and asserting their own integrity, not to pass by so great an indignity offered them by a person bred up by and amongst themselves. That which troubles us most is, that the English likewise were betrayed, in that expedition. He who had designed long ago to convert the government of England into a tyranny, thought he could not bring it to pass, till the flower and strength of the military power of the nation were cut off. Another of his crimes was, the causing some words to be struck out of the usual coronation oath, before he himself would take it. Unworthy and abominable action! The act was wicked in itself; what shall be said of him that undertakes to justify it? For by the eternal God, what greater breach of faith, and violation of all laws, can possibly be imagined? What ought to be more sacred to him, next to the holy sacraments themselves, than that oath? Which of the two do you think the more flagitious person, him that offends against the law, or him that endeavours to make the law equally guilty with himself? Or rather him who subverts the law itself, that he may not seem to offend against it? For thus that king violated that oath, which he ought most religiously to have sworn to; but that he might not seem openly and publicly to violate it, he craftily adulterated and corrupted it; and lest he himself should be accounted perjured, he turned the very oath into a perjury. What other could be expected, than that his reign would be full of injustice, craft, and misfortune, who began it with so detestable an injury to his people? And who durst pervert and adulterate that law, which he thought the only obstacle that stood in his way, and hindered him from perverting all the rest of the laws: But “that oath" (thus you justify him) “lays no other obligation upon kings, than the laws themselves do: and kings pretend, that they will be bound and limited by laws, though indeed they are altogether from under the power of the laws. Is it not prodigious, that a man should dare to express himself so sacrile

[ocr errors]

Of a

giously and so senselessly, as to assert, that an oath sacredly sworn upon the Holy Evangelists, may be dispensed with, and set aside as a little insignificant thing, without any cause whatsoever! Charles himself refutes you, you prodigy of impiety, who, thinking that oath no light matter, choose rather by a subterfuge to avoid the force of it, or by a fallacy to elude it, than openly to violate it; and would rather falsify and corrupt the oath, than mainfestly forswear himself after he had taken it. But “ The king indeed swears to his people, as the people do to him; but the people swear fidelity to the king, not the king to them.” Pretty invention! Does not he that promises, and binds himself by an oath to do any thing to or for another, oblige his fidelity to then that require the oath of him? truth, every king swears Fidelity, and Service, and Obedience to the people, with respect to the performance of whatsoever he promises upon oath to do.

Then you run back to William the Conqueror, who was forced more than once to swear to perform, not what he himself would, but what the people and the great men of the realm required of him. If many kings

are crowned without the usual solemnity,” and reign without taking any oath, the same thing may be said of the people; a great many of whom never took the oath of allegiance. If the king by not taking an oath be at liberty, the people are so too. And that part of the people that has sworn, swore not to the king only, but to the realm, and the laws, by which the king came to his crown; and no otherwise to the king, than whilst he should act according to those laws, that “the common People,” that is, the house of Commons, should choose; (quas vulgus elegerit.) For it were folly to alter the phrase of our law, and turn it into more genuine Latin. This clause, (quas vulgus elegerit,) which the commons shall choose, Charles before he was crowned, procured to be razed out. “But," say you, “ without the king's assent the people can choose no laws ;” and for this you cite two statutes, viz. Anno 37 H. VI., Cap. 15, and 13 Edw. IV., Cap. 8: but these two statutes are so far from appearing in our statutebooks, that in the years you mention neither of those kings enacted any laws at all. Go now and complain, that those fugitives, who pretended to furnish you with matter out of our statutes, imposed upon you in it; and let other people in the mean time stand astonished at your impudence and vanity, who are not ashamed to pretend to be thoroughly versed in such books, as it is so evident you have never looked into, nor so much as seen. And that clause in the coronation oath which such a brazen-faced brawler as you call fictitious, “ The king's friends,” you say yourself, “ acknowledge, that it may possibly be extant in some ancient copies, but that it grew into disuse, because it had no convenient signification.” But for that very reason did our ancestors insert it in the oath, that the oath might have such a signification as would not be for a tyrant's conveniency. If it had really grown into disuse, which yet is most false, there was the greater need of reviving it; but even that would have been to no purpose, according to your doctrine: “For that custom of taking an oath, as kings nowa-days generally use it, is no more,” you say, " than a bare ceremony." And yet the king, when the bishops were to be put down, pretended that he could not do it by reason of that oath. And consequently that reverend and sacred oath, as it serves for the king's turn, or not, must be solemn and binding, or an empty ceremony: which I earnestly entreat my countrymen to take notice of, and to consider what manner of a king they are like to have, if he ever come back. For it would never have entered into the laoughts of this rascally foreign grammarian, to write a discourse of the

« ForrigeFortsett »