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"nation are a sober people, however at present infatuated. "I know not but this may be the last time I may speak "to you or the world publicly. I am sensible into what "hands I am fallen; and yet, I bless God, 1 have those "inward refreshments, which the malice of my enemies ** cannot perturb. I have learned to be busy myself, by "retiring into myself; and therefore can the better digest "whatever befals me, not doubting but God's providence "will restrain our enemies' power, and turn their fierce"ness into his praise. To conclude, if God give you suc"cess, use it humbly, and be ever far from revenge. If "he restore you to your right on hard conditions, what"ever you promise, keep. These men, who have violated ** raws which they were bound to preserve, will find their "triumphs full of trouble. But do not you think any "thing in the world worth attaining by foul and unjust "means." "'
NOTE, [F] p. 148.
THE imputation of insincerity on Charles I. like most party clamours, is difficult to be removed; though it may not here be improper to say something with regard to it. I shall first remark, that this imputation seems to be of a later growth than his own age; and that even his enemies, though they loaded him with many calumnies, did not insist on this accusation. Ludlow, 1 think, is almost the only parliamentarian, who imputes that vice to him; and how passionate a writer he is, must be obvious to every one. Neither Clarendon, nor any other of the royalists, ever justify him from insincerity; as not supposing that he had ever been accused of it. In the second place, his deportment and character in common life was free from that vice: He was reserved, distant, stately; cold in his address, plain in his discourse, inflexible in his principles; wide of the caressing, insinuating manners of his son ; or the professing, talkative humour of his father. The imputation of insincerity must be grounded on some of his public actions, which we are therefore in the third place to examine. The following are the only instances which I find I find cited to confirm that accusation. (1.) His vouching Buckingham's narrative of the transactions in Spain. But it is evident that Charles himself was deceived: Why otherwise did he quarrel with Spain? The following is a passage of a letter from lord Kensington, ambassador in France, to the duke of Buckingham, Cabbala, p. 318. "But his highness (the prince) had observed as great a "weakness and folly as that, in that after they (the "Spaniards) had used him so ill, they would suffer him "to depart, which was one of the first speeches he uttered "after he came into the ship: But did he say so ? said the "queen (of France). Yes, madam, I will assure you, "quoth I, from the witness of mine own ears. She "smiled and replied, Indeed I heard he was used ill. So "he was, answered I, but not in his entertainment; for "that was as splendid as that country could afford it; ""but in their frivolous delays, and in the unreasonable "conditions which they propounded and pressed, upon "the advantage which they had of his princely person." (2.) Bp. Burnet, in his History of the House of Hamilton, p. 154. has preserved a letter of the king's to the Scottish Bishops, in which he desires them not to be present at the parliament, where they would be forced to ratify the abolition of their own order: "For," adds the king, " we "do hereby assure you, that it shall be still one of our "chiefest studies how to rectify and establish the govern"ment of that church aright, and to repair your losses, "which we desire you to be most confident of." And in another place, "You may rest secure, that though per"haps we may give way for the present to that which "will be prejudicial both to the church and our own go"vernment ; yet we shall not leave thinking in time how "to remedy both." But does the king say that he will arbitrarily revoke his concessions? Does not candour require us rather to suppose that he hoped his authority would so far recover as to enable him to obtain the national consent to re-establish episcopacy, which he believed so material a part of religion as well as of government? It is not easy indeed to think how he could hope to effect this purpose in any other way than his father had taken, that is, by consent of parliament. (3.) There is a passage in lord Clarendon; where it is said, that the king assented the more easily to the bill, which excluded the bishops from
the house of peers ; because he thought, that that law being enacted by force, could not be valid. But the king, eertainly reasoned right in that conclusion. Three-fourths of the temporal peers were at that time banished by the violence of the populace: Twelve bishops were unjustly thrown into the Tower by the commons: Great numbers of the commons themselves were kept away by fear or violence: The king himself was chased from London. If all this be not force, there is no such thing. But this scruple of the king's affects only the bishops' bill, and that against pressing. The other constitutional laws had passed without the least appearance of violence, as did indeed all the bills passed during the first year, except Strafford's attainder, which could not be recalled. The parliament, therefore, even if they had known the king's sentiments in this particular, could not, on that account, have had any just foundation of jealousy. (4.) The king's letter intercepted at Naseby, has been the source of much clamour. We have spoken of it already in chap. lviii. Nothing is more usual in all public transactions than such distinctions. After the death of Charles II. of Spain, king William's ambassadors gave the duke of Anjou the title of king of Spain: Yet at that very time king William was secretly forming alliances to dethrone him: And soon after he refused him that title, and insisted (as he had reason) that he had not acknowledged his right. Yet king William justly passes for a very sincere prince ; and this transaction is not regarded as any objection to his character in that particular. In all the negotiations at the peace of Ryswic, the French ambassadors always addressed king William as king of England; yet it was made an express article of the treaty, that the French king should acknowledge him as such. Such a palpable difference is there between giving a title to a prince, and positively recognising his right to it. I may add, that Charles, when he inserted that protestation in the council-books before his council, surely thought he had reason to justify his conduct. There were too many men of honour in that company to avow a palpable cheat. To which we may subjoin, that if men were as much disposed to judge of this prince's actions with candour as severity, this precaution of entering a protest in his council-books might rather pass for a proof of scrupulous honour ; lest he should afterwards be reproached proached with breach of his word, when he should think proper again to declare the assembly at Westminster no parliament. (5.) The denying of his commission to Glamorgan is another instance which has been cited. This matter has been already treated in a note to chap, lviii. That transaction was entirely innocent. Even if the king had given a commission to Glamorgan to conclude that treaty, and had ratified it, will any reasonable man in our age think it strange, that, in order to save his own life, his crown, his family, his friends, and his party, he should make a treaty with papists, and grant them very large concessions for their religion? (6.) There is another of -the king's intercepted letters to the queen commonly mentioned; where it is pretended, he talked of raising and then destroying Cromwel: But that story stands on no manner of foundation, as we have observed in a preceding note to this chapter. In a word, the parliament, after the commencement of their violences, and still more after beginning the civil war, had reason for their scruples and jealousies, founded on the very nature of their situation, and on the general propensity of the human mind; not on any fault of the king's character ; who was candid, sincere, upright, as much as any man whom we meet with in history. Perhaps it would be difficult to find another character so unexceptionable in this particular.
As to the other circumstances of Charles's character, chiefly exclaimed against, namely, his arbitrary principles in government, one may venture to assert, that the greatest enemies of this prince will not find, in the long line of his predecessors, from the conquest to his time, any one king, except perhaps his father, whose administration was not more arbitrary and less legal, or whose conduct could have been recommended to him by the popular party themselves, as a model, in this particular, for his government. Nor is it sufficient to say, that example and precedent can never authorise vices: Examples and precedents, uniform and ancient, can surely fix the nature of any constitution, and the limits of any form of government. There is indeed no other principle by which those land-marks or boundaries can be settled.
What a paradox in human affairs, that Henry VIIIshould have been almost adored in his lifetime, and his memory be respected: While Charles I. should, by the
same people, at no greater distance than a century, have been led to a public and ignominious execution, and his name be ever after pursued by falsehood and by obloquy! Even at present, an historian who, prompted by his courageous generosity, should venture, though from the most authentic and undisputed facts, to vindicate the fame of that prince, would be sure to meet with sure treatment, as would discourage even the boldest from so dangerous, however splendid an enterprise.
NOTE, [G] p. 166
THE following instance of extravagance is given by Walker, in his History of Independence, Part II. p. 152. About this time, there came six soldiers into the parish church of Walton upon Thames, near twilight: Mr. Faucet, the preacher there, not having till then ended his sermon. One of the soldiers had a lanthorn in his hand, and a candle burning in it, and in the other hand four candles not lighted. He desired the parishioners to stay a while, saying he had a message from God unto them, and thereupon offered to go into the pulpit. But the people refusing to give him leave so to do, or to stay in the church, he went into the church-yard, and there told them that he had a vision, wherein he had received a command from God to deliver his will unto them, which he was to deliver, and they to receive upon pain of damnation; consisting of five lights. (1.) That the sabbath was abo"lished as unnecessary, Jewish, and merely ceremonial, **And here (quoth he) I should put out the first light, "but the wind is so high I cannot kindle it. (2.) That "tithes are abolished as Jewish and ceremonial, a great "burthen to the saints of God, and a discouragement of "industry and tillage. And here I should put out my se"cond light, 8tc. (3.) That ministers are abolished as "antichristian, and of no longer use, now Christ himself "descends into the hearts of his saints, and his spirit en"lighteneth them with revelations and inspirations. And "here I should put out my third light, &c. (4.) Ma"gistrates are abolished as useless, now that Christ him"self is in purity amongst us, and hath erected the king