Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

geographical and historical mistakes: as page 29, Suevia the German dukedom, for Suecia, the Northern kingdom : Philip of Macedon, who is generally understood of the great Alexander's father only, made contemporary, page 31, with T. Quintus the Roman commander, instead of T. Quintius, and the latter Philip: and page 44, Tully cited in his third oration against Verres,” to say of him, “ that he was a wicked consul,” who never was a consul: nor “Trojan sedition ever portrayed” by that verse of Virgil, which you cite page 47, as that of Troy: schoolboys could have told you, that there is nothing of Troy in that whole portraiture, as you call it, of Sedition. These gross mistakes may justly bring in doubt your other loose citations, and that you take them up somewhere at the second or third hand rashly, , and without due considering.

Nor are you happier in the relating or the moralizing your fable, “ The frogs" (BEING ONCE A FREE NATION, saith the fable) “petitioned Jupiter for a king: he tumbled among them a log: they found it insensible; they petitioned then for a king that should be active; he sent them a crane” (a STORK, saith the fable) “which straight fell to pecking them up.” This you apply to the reproof of them who desire change: whereas indeed the true moral shows rather the folly of those who being free seek a king; which for the most part either as a log lies heavy on his subjects, without doing aught worthy of his dignity and the charge to maintain him, or as a stork, is ever pecking them up, and devouring them.

But “by our fundamental laws, the king is the highest power,” page 40. If we must hear mooting and law lectures from the pulpit, what shame is it for a doctor of divinity not first to consider, that no law can be fundamental, but that which is grounded on the light of nature or right reason, commonly called moral law: which no form of government was ever counted, but arbitrary, and at all times in the choice of every free people, or their representers. This choice of government is so essential to their freedom, that longer than they have it, they are not free. In this land not only the late king and his posterity, but kingship itself, hath been abrogated by a law; which involves with as good reason the posterity of a king forfeited to the people, as that law heretofore of treason against the king, attainted the children with the father. This law against both king and kingship they who most question, do not less question all enacted without the king and his antiparliament at Oxford, though called mongrel by himself. If no law must be held good, but what passes in full parliament, then surely in exactness of legality no member must be missing: for look how many are missing, so many counties or cities that sent them want their represent

But if, being once chosen, they serve for the whole nation, then any number, which is sufficient, is full, and most of all in times of discord, necessity, and danger. The king himself was bound by the old mode of parliaments, not to be absent, but in case of sickness, or some extraordinary occasion, and then to leave his substitute ; much less might any member be allowed to absent himself. If the king then and many of the members with hin, without leaving any in his stead, forsook the parliament upon a mere panic fear, as was at that time judged by most men, and to levy war against them that sat, should they who were left sitting, break up, or not dare enact aught of nearest and presentest concernment to public safety, for the punctilio wanting of a full number, which no law-book in such extraordinary cases hath determined ? Certainly if it were lawful for them to fly from their charge upon pretence of private safety, it was much more lawful for these to set and aci in their trust what was necessary for the public. By a law therefore of parliament, and of a parliament that

ers.

conquered both Ireland, Scotland, and all their enemies in England, defended their friends, were generally acknowledged for a parliament both at home and abroad, kingship was abolished: this law now of late bath been negatively repealed ; yet kingship not positively restored, and I suppose never was established by any certain law in this land, nor possibly could be: for how could our forefathers bind us to any certain form of government, more than we can, bind our posterity? If a people be put to war with their king for his misgovernment, and overcome him, the power is then undoubtedly in their own hands how they will be governed. The war was granted just by the king himself at the beginning of his last treaty, and still maintained to be so by this last parliament, as appears by the qualification prescribed to the members of this next ensuing, that none shall be elected, who have borne arms against the parliament since 1641. If the war were just, the conquest was also just by the law of nations. And he who was the chief enemy, in all right ceased to be the king, especially after captivity, by the deciding verdict of war; and royalty with all her laws and pretensions yet remains in the victor's power, together with the choice of our future government. Free commonwealths have been ever counted fittest and properest for civil, virtuous, and industrious, nations, abounding with prudent men worthy to govern; monarchy fittest to curb degenerate, corrupt, idle, proud, luxurious people. If we desire to be of the former, nothing better for us, nothing nobler than a free commonwealth : if we will needs condemn ourselves to be of the latter, despairing of our own virtue, industry, and the number of our able men, we may then, conscious of our own unworthiness to be governed better, sadly betake us to our befitting thraldom: yet choosing out of our number one who hath best aided the people, and best merited against tyranny, the space of a reign or two we may chance to live happily enough, or tolerably. But that a victorious people should give up themselves again to the vanquished, was never yet heard of, seems rather void of all reason and good policy, and will in all probability subject the subduers to the subdued, will expose to revenge, to beggary, to ruin, and perpetual bondage, the victors under the vanquished : than which what can be more unworthy ?

From misinterpreting our law, you return to do again the same with Scripture, and would prove the supremacy of English kings from 1 Pet. ii. 13, as if that were the apostle's work: wherein if he saith that “the king is supreme,

,” he speaks so of him but as an “ordinance of man,” and in respect of those "governors that are sent by him," not in respect of parliaments, which by the law of this land are his bridle; in vain his bridle, if not also his rider: and therefore hath not only co-ordination with him, which you falsely call seditious, but hath superiority above him, and that neither“ against religion,” nor right reason :” no nor against common law; for our kings reigned only by law. But the parliament is above all positive law, whether civil or common, makes or unmakes them both ; and still the latter parliament above the former, above all the former lawgivers, then certainly above all precedent laws, entailed the crown on whom it pleased; and as a great lawyer saith, “is so transcendent and absolute, that it cannot be confined either for causes or persons, within

any

bounds.” But your cry is, no parliament without a king. If this be so, we have never had lawful kings, who have all been created kings either by such parliaments, or by conquest : if by such parliaments, they are in your allowance none; if by conquest, that conquest we have now conquered. So that as well by your own assertion as by ours, there can at present be no king. And how could that person be absolutely supreme, who reigned, not under

law only, but under oath of his good demeanor, given to the people at his coronation, ere the people gave him his crown? and his principal oath was to maintain those laws, which the people should choose. If then the law itself, much more he who was but the keeper and minister of law, was in their choice, and both he subordinate to the performance of his duty sworn, and our sworn allegiance in order only to his performance.

You fall next on the consistorian schismatics; for so you call Presbyterians, page 40, and judge them to have "enervated the king's supremacy by their opinions and practice, differing in many things only in terms from popery ;” though some of those principles, which you there cite concerning kingship, are to be read in Aristotle's Politics, long ere popery was thought on. The presbyterians therefore it concerns to be well forewarned of you betimes; and to them I leave you.

As for your examples of seditious men, page 54, &c. Cora, Absalom, Zimri, Sheba, to these you might with much more reason have added your own name, who “blow the trumpet of sedition” from your pulpit against the present government: in reward whereof they have sent you by this time, as I hear, to your “own place,” for preaching open sedition, while

you would seem to preach against it.

As for your Appendix annexed of the “Samaritan revived,” finding it so foul a libel against all the well-affected of this land, since the very time of ship-money, against the whole parliament, both lords and commons, except those that fled to Oxford, against the whole reformed church, not only in England and Scotland, but all over Europe, (in comparison whereof you and your prelatical party are more truly schismatics and sectarians, nay, more properly fanatics in your fanes and gilded temples, than those whom you revile by those names,) and meeting with no more Scripture or solid reason in your “Samaritan wine and oil,” than hath already been found sophisticated and adulterate, I leave your malignant narrative, as needing no other confutation, than the just censure already passed upon you by the council of state.

THE HISTORY OF BRITAIN,

THAT PART ESPECIALLY NOW CALLED ENGLAND,

FROM THE FIRST TRADITIONAL BEGINNING, CONTINUED TO THE NORMAN CONQUEST :-COLLECTED

OUT OF THE ANCIENTEST AND BEST AUTHORS THEREOF.

PUBLISHED FROM A COPY CORRECTED BY THE AUTHOR HIMSELF, (1670.)

THE FIRST BOOK.

The beginning of nations, those excepted of whom sacred books have spoken, is to this day unknown. Nor only the beginning, but the deeds also of many succeeding ages, yea, periods of ages, either wholly unknown, or obscured and blemished with fables. Whether it were that the use of letters came in long after, or were it the violence of barbarous inundations, or they themselves, at certain revolutions of time, fatally decaying, and degenerating into sloth and ignorance; whereby the monuments of more ancient civility have been some destroyed, some lost. Perhaps disesteem and contempt of the public affairs then present, as not worth recording, might partly be in cause. Certainly ofttimes we see that wise men, and of best ability, have foreborne to write the acts of their own days, while they beheld with á just loathing and disdain, not only how unworthy, how perverse, how corrupt, but often how ignoble, how petty, how below all history, the persons and their actions were ; who, either by fortune or some rude election, had attained, as a sore judgment and ignominy upon the land, to have chief sway in managing the commonwealth. But that any law, or superstition of our philosophers, the Druids, forbad the Britons to write their memorable deeds, I know not why any out of Cæsar* should allege: hę indeed saith, that their doctrine they thought not lawful to commit to letters; but in most matters else, both private and public, among which well may history be reckoned, they used the Greek tongue; and that the British Druids, who taught those in Gaul, would be ignorant of any language known and used by their disciples, or so frequently writing other things, and so inquisitive into highest, would for want of recording be ever children in the knowledge of times and ages, is not likely. Whatever might be the reason, this we find, that of British affairs, from the first peopling of the island to the coming of Julius Cæsar, nothing certain, either by tradition, history, or ancient fame, hath hitherto been left us. That which we have of oldest seeming, hath by the greater part of judicious antiquaries been long rejected for a modern fable.

Nevertheless there being others, besides the first supposed author, men not unread, nor unlearned in antiquity, who admit that for approved story, which the former explode for fiction; and seeing that ofttimes relations heretofore accounte fabulous have been after found to contain in them many footsteps and reliques of something true, as what we read in poets of the food, and giants little believed, till undoubted witnesses taught us, that

* Cæs. 1. 6.

all was not feigned ; I have therefore determined to bestow the telling over even of these reputed tales; be it for nothing else but in favour of our English poets and rhetoricians, who by their art will know how to use them judiciously

I might also produce example, as Diodorus among the Greeks, Livy and others among the Latins, Polydore and Virunnius accounted among our own writers. But I intend not with controversies and quotations to delay or interrupt the smooth course of history; much less to argue and debate long who were the first inhabitants, with what probabilities, what authorities each opinion hath been upheld; but shall endeavour that which hitherto hath been needed most, with plain and lightsome brevity, to relate well and orderly things worth the noting, so as may best instruct and benefit them that read. Which, imploring divine assistance, that it may redound to his glory, and the good of the British nation, I now begin.

That the whole earth was inhabited before the flood, and to the utmost point of habitable ground from those effectual words of God in the creation, may be more than conjectured. Hence that this island also had her dwellers, her affairs, and perhaps her stories, even in that old world those many hundred years, with much reason we may infer. After the flood, and the dispersing of nations, as they journeyed leisurely from the east, Gomer the eldest son of Japhet, and his offspring, as by authorities, arguments, and affinity of divers names is generally believed, were the first that peopled all these west and northern climes. But they of our own writers, who thought they had done nothing, unless with all circumstance they tell us when, and who first set foot upon this island, presume to name out of fabulous and counterfeit authors a certain Samothes or Dis, a fourth or sixth son of Japhet, (who they make, about 200 years after the flood, to have planted with colonies, first the continent of Celtica or Gaul, and next this island; thence to have named it Samothea,) to have reigned here, and after him lineally four kings, Magus, Saron, Druis, and Bardus. But the forged Berosus, whom only they have to cite, no where mentions that either he, or any of those whom they bring, did ever pass into Britain, or send their people hither. So that this outlandish figment may easily excuse our not allowing it the room here so much as of a British fable.

That which follows, perhaps as wide from truth, though seeming less impertinent, is, that these Samotheans under the reign of Bardus were subdued by Albion, a giant, son of Neptune; who called the island after his own name, and ruled it forty-four years. Till at length passing over into Gaul, in aid of his brother Lestrygon, against whom Hercules was hasting out of Spain into Italy, he was there slain in fight, and Bergion also his brother.

Sure enough we are, that Britain hath been anciently termed Albion, both by the Greeks and Romans. And Mela, the geographer, makes mention of a stony shore in Languedoc, where by report such a battle was fought. The rest, as his giving name to the isle, or even landing here, depends altogether upon late surmises. But too absurd, and too unconscionably gross is that fond invention, that wafted hither the fifty daughters of a strange Dioclesian king of Syria ; brought in, doubtless, by some illiterate pretender to something mistaken in the common poetical story of Danaus king of Argos, while his vanity, not pleased with the obscure beginning which truest antiquity affords the nation, laboured to contrive us a pedigree, as he thought, more noble. These daughters by appointment of Danaus on the marriage-night having murdered all their husbands, except Linceus, whom

« ForrigeFortsett »