WHAT posterity may not be deceived, by the pro

sperous wickedness of these times, into an opinion, that less than a general combination, and universal apostasy in the whole nation from their religion and allegiance, could, in so short a time, have produced such a total and prodigious alteration and confusion over the whole kingdom; and so the memory of those few, who, out of duty and conscience, have opposed and resisted that torrent, which hath overwhelmed them, may lose the recompense due to their virtue; and, having undergone the injuries and reproaches of this, may not find a vindication in a better age; it will not be unuseful, at least to the curiosity if not the conscience of men, to present to the world a full and clear narration of the grounds, circumstances, and



artifices of this rebellion : not only from the time since the flame hath been visible in a civil war, but, looking farther back, from those former passages, accidents, and actions, by which the seedplots were made and framed, from whence these mischiefs have successively grown to the height they are now at.

And then, though the hand and judgment of God will be very visible, in the infatuating a people (as ripe and prepared for destruction) into all the perverse actions of folly and madness, making the weak to contribute to the designs of the wicked, and suffering even those, by degrees, out of the conscience of their guilt, to grow more wicked than they intended to be; letting the wise to be imposed upon by men of no understanding, and possessing the innocent with laziness and sleep in the most visible article of danger; uniting the ill, though of the most different opinions, divided interests, and distant affections, in a firm and constant league of mischief; and dividing those, whose opinions and interests are the same, into faction and emulation, more pernicious to the public than the treason of the others : whilst the poor people, under pretence of zeal to religion, law, liberty, and parliaments, (words of precious esteem in their just signification,) are furiously hurried into actions introducing atheism, and dissolving all the elements of Christian religion; cancelling all obligations, and destroying all foundations of law and liberty; and rendering, not only the privileges, but very being, of parliaments desperate and impossible : I say, though the immediate finger and wrath of God must be acknowledged in these perplexities and

distractions; yet he who shall diligently observe the distempers and conjunctures of time, the ambition, pride, and folly of persons, and the sudden growth of wickedness, from want of care and circumspection in the first impressions, will find all this bulk of misery to have proceeded, and to have been brought upon us, from the same natural causes and means, which have usually attended kingdoms, swoln with long plenty, pride, and excess, towards some signal mortifications, and castigation of Heaven. And it may be, upon the view of the impossibility of foreseeing many things that have happened, and of the necessity of overseeing many other things, we may not yet find the cure so de. sperate, but that, by God's mercy, the wounds may be again bound up; though no question many must first bleed to death; and then this prospect may not make the future peace less pleasant and durable.

And I have the more willingly induced myself to this unequal task, out of the hope of contributing somewhat to that end : and though a piece of this nature (wherein the infirmities of some, and the malice of others, both things and persons, must be boldly looked upon and mentioned) is not likely to be published at least in the age in which it is writ, yet it may serve to inform myself, and some others, what we are to do, as well as to comfort us in what we have done, and then possibly it may not be very difficult to collect somewhat out of that store, more proper, and not unuseful for the public view. And as I may not be thought altogether an incompetent person for this communication, having been present as a member of parliament in those councils before and till the breaking out of the rebellion, and having since had the honour to be near two great kings in some trust, so I shall perform the same with all faithfulness and ingenuity; with an equal observation of the faults and infirmities of both sides, with their defects and oversights in pursuing their own ends; and shall no otherwise mention small and light occurrences, than as they have been introductions to matters of the greatest moment; nor speak of persons otherwise, than as the mention of their virtues or vices is essential to the work in hand : in which as I shall have the fate to be suspected rather for malice to many, than of flattery to any, so I shall, in truth, preserve myself from the least sharpness, that may proceed from private provocation, or a more public indignation, in the whole observing the rules that a man should, who deserves to be believed.

I shall not then lead any man farther back in this journey, for the discovery of the entrance into these dark ways, than the beginning of this king's reign. For I am not so sharp-sighted as those, who have discerned this rebellion contriving from (if not before) the death of queen Elizabeth, and fomented by several princes and great ministers of state in Christendom, to the time that it brake out. Neither do I look so far back as believing the design to be so long since formed; (they who have observed the several accidents, not capable of being contrived, which have contributed to the several successes, and do know the persons who have been the grand instruments towards this change, of whom there have not been any four of familiarity and trust with each other, will easily

absolve them from so much industry and foresight in their mischief;) but that, by viewing the temper, disposition, and habit, of that time, of the court and of the country, we may discern the minds of men prepared, of some to do, and of others to suffer, all that hath since happened; the pride of this man, and the popularity of that; the levity of one, and the morosity of another; the excess of the court in the greatest want, and the parsimony and retention of the country in the greatest plenty ; the spirit of craft and subtlety in some, and the rude and unpolished integrity of others, too much despising craft or art; like so many atoms contributing jointly to this mass of confusion now before us.

King James in the end of March 1625 died, leaving his majesty that now is, engaged in a war with Spain, but unprovided with money to manage it; though it was undertaken by the consent and advice of parliament; the people being naturally enough inclined to the war (having surfeited with the uninterrupted pleasures and plenty of twentytwo years peace) and sufficiently inflamed against the Spaniard; but quickly weary of the charge of it: and therefore, after an unprosperous and chargeable attempt in a voyage by sea upon Cadiz, and as unsuccessful and more unfortunate a one upon France, at the Isle of Rhé, (for some difference had likewise at the same time begotten a war with that prince,) a general peace was shortly concluded with both kingdoms; the exchequer being so exhausted with the debts of king James, the bounty of his

« ForrigeFortsett »