Page images

any longer a spark of fhame; they are now grown zealous abettors of the divine right of tythes; and truly as their thirst for tythes is fo infatiable, they fhould be quite gorged with the commodity, and ordered to have, not only a tenth part of the fruits of the earth, but of the waves of the fea. They were the first to counfel a war of extermination against the king; but when the king was made prifoner, after having been convicted, according to their own repeated declarations, as the author of fo much mifery and bloodshed, they affected to compaffionate his fituation. Thus, in their pulpits, as in an auction room, they retail what wares and trumpery they please to the people; and what is worse, they reclaim what they have already fold. But "the Scots demanded that the king fhould be restored to them, and mention the promises of the parliament, when they delivered up the king to the English." But I can prove, from the confeffion of the Scots themselves, that no fuch promife was given when the king was delivered up; and it would have been difgraceful for the English to have entered into any fuch ftipulations with the Scotch troops, who were mercenaries in their pay. Why? Because the anfwer of the parliament to the reprefentations of the Scotch, which was published on the fifteenth of March, clearly denies, that any affurances whatever were given refpecting the treatment of the king; for they would have difdained to have fubmitted to fuch limitations of their right. But "they demanded that the king fhould be reftored to them." These tender-hearted perfons, I fuppofe, were melted with compaffion, and could no longer endure the regrets of royalty; though on feveral occafions, in which the fubject had been difcuffed in parliament, they had unanimously agreed that the king might be deprived of his crown for three principal reafons; the defpotifm of his government, his alienation of the royal domains, and the desertion of his fubjects. In the parliament, which was held at Perth, it was asked, Is the king, who is evidently an enemy to the faints, to be excommunicated from the fociety of the faithful? But before they could come to any decision on this question, Montrofe advanced with his troops and difperfed the convention. The fame perfons, in their answer

[ocr errors]

to General Cromwell, 1650, confefs that he was juftly punished, but that there was an informality in the proceedings, because they had no fhare in the commiffion which condemned him. This tranfaction, therefore, which was fo atrocious, without their participation, would have been highly patriotic with it; as if the diftinctions of right and wrong, of juftice and injuftice depend on their arbritrary difpofition, or their capricious inclinations. If the king had been restored to them, would he have experienced greater clemency and moderation? But "the Scotch Delegates had firft brought this anfwer from the English Parliament, that they were unwilling to alter the form of the English Government; though they afterwards answered that they had changed their former determination and would adopt fuch measures as the public interest seemed to require:" And this anfwer was difcreet and wise. What do you infer from hence? "This change of sentiment," you fay, "was contrary to every engagement, to every ftipulation, and to common fenfe." To fuch com

mon fenfe as yours it may be adverfe, who do not know the difference between a gratuitous promife and a folemn and positive engagement. The English freely state to the Scots, what they were under no obligation to do, the fentiments which they then entertained refpecting the future form of their government; but the fafety of the state foon perfuaded them to embrace a different policy, if they would not violate, the folemn affurances which they had given to the people. And which, do you think, was most binding on their confciences; their gratuitous reply to the Scotch Delegates, concerning the future form of their conftitution, or the neceffary oath which they had taken, the folemn engagement into which they had entered with the people, to establish the liberties of their country? ? But that a parliament or a fenate may alter their refolutions according to circumftances, as you deem whatever I affert to be mere anabaptistical extravagance, I fhall endeavour to fhew you from the authority of Cicero in his oration for Plancius. "We fhould all stand, as it were, in fome circular fection of the commonwealth; in which fince it is liable to a rotatory motion, we should choose that pofition to which the public intereft feems to

direct us and this immediately, for I do not think it a mark of inconftancy to accommodate our measures, as we do the course which we steer at fea, to the winds and storms of the political horizon. It is a maxim, which I have found justified by observation, by experience and by books, by the examples of the wifefst and most illuftrious characters in this and in other countries," that the fame men are not always bound to defend the fame opinions, but only fuch as the circumstances of the country, the current of popular opinion, and the preservation of peace feem to render neceffary." Such were the fentiments of Tully; though you, fir, would rather prefer thofe of Hortenfius; fuch were the fentiments of thofe ages in which political wifdom flourished moft; and which I deem it wife in the Anabaptists to adopt. I could mention many other practices which are condemned as anabaptistical by these strippling teachers, and their chief Salmafius, who must be regarded as an illiterate dunce if we look to things rather than to words. But you fay that" the high and mighty chiefs of the United Sates of Holland, most strenuously laboured, though to no purpose, both by fupplications and by the offer of a ranfom to fave the facred life of the king." Thus to wish to buy off justice was the fame as not to will the fafety of the king; but they foon learned that we were not all merchants, and that the parliament of England was not a venal crew. With refpect to the condemnation of the king, you fay that "in order that the fufferings of Charles might be more nearly affimilated to those of Christ, he was expofed to the redoubled mockery of the foldiery." The fufferings of Chrift were indeed more like thofe of malefactors than the fufferings of Charles were like those of Chrift; though many comparisons of this kind were hawked about by those who were zealous in forging any lie, or devifing any imposture that might tend to excite the popular indignation. But fuppofe that fome of the common foldiers did behave with a little too much infolence, that confideration does not conftitute the demerit of the execution. I never before heard, nor did I ever meet with any person who had heard, that " a person, who implored God to have mercy on the king as he was passing to the fcaffold was inftantly put to death in the prefence VOL. VI.

E e


of the monarch." I caufed inquiries on the fubject to be. made of the officer who had the command of the guard during the whole time of the execution, and who hardly ever loft fight of the king's perfon for a moment; and he pofitively declared that he had never heard this before, and that he knew it to be utterly deftitute of foundation. Hence we may learn what credit is due to your narrative in other particulars; for you will be found not to difcover much more veracity in your endeavours to procure affection and refpect for Charles after his death, than in your exertions to make us objects of general and unmerited deteftation. You fay that " on the fatal scaffold, the king was heard twice to figh out to the bishop of London, remember! remember!" The judges were all in anxiety to know what the words, fo emphatically repeated, meant; the bishop, according to your account, was fent for, and with a menace ordered to declare to what the reiterated admonition might allude. He, at first, with a preconcerted diffimulation pleaded his sense of delicacy, and refused to divulge the fecret. When they became more impatient, he at last disclosed, as if by constraint, and under the influence of fear, what he would not for the world have had unknown. "The king" faid he, "ordered me, if I could gain access to his fon, to inform him that it was the last injunction of his dying father, that, if he were ever reftored to his power and crown, he fhould pardon you, the authors of his death. This was what his majefty again and again commanded me to remember." Which fháll I fay? that the king discovered most piety, or the bishop most deceit ? who with fo little difficulty confented to disclose a fecret, which on the very fcaffold was fo mysterioufly entrusted to him, for the purpofe of difclofure? But O! model of taciturnity! Charles had long fince left this injunction among others to his fon in his "Icon Bafilicon," a book which was evidently written for this exprefs purpose, that this fecret, which had been fo oftentatiously enveloped in obfcurity might be divulged with the utmost dispatch, and circulated with the utmost diligence. But I clearly fee that you are determined to obtrude upon the ignorant fome paragon of perfection if not quite like Charles Stuart, at leaft fome hyperborean and fabled hero, de


corated with all the fhewy varnish of impofture; and that you tricked out this fiction, and embellifhed it with the effufions of fenfibility in order to entrap the attention of the populace. But though I do not deny but that one or two of the commiffioners might perhaps have briefly interrogated the bishop on this fubject, I do not find that he was either purposely called before them, or deliberately and fcrupulously interrogated, as if it were a matter of their general folicitude and care. But let us grant that Charles, on the scaffold, did deliver to the bishop these dying injunctions to his fon to pardon the authors of his death; what did he do more than others have done in fimilar fituations? How few perfons are there about to die upon a scaffold, and to close for ever the tragedy of life, when they must forcibly feel the vanity of every thing human, who would not do the fame, who would not, when on the point of leaving the ftage of life, cheerfully lay afide their animofities, their refentments, their averfions, or, at least, pretend to do it, in order to excite compaffion, or to leave behind them an opinion of their innocence? That Charles acted the hypocrite on this occafion, and that he never did fincerely, and from his heart, deliver any injunction to his fon to pardon the authors of his death, or that his private were at variance with his public admonitions, may be proved by arguments of no fmall weight. For otherwife the fon, who, in other refpects was fufficiently obfequious to his father, would doubtlessly have obeyed this his most momentous and dying injunction, fo religiously conveyed to him by the bishop. But how did he obey it, when two of our ambaffadors, the one in Holland, and the other in Spain, neither of whom had any share in the deftruction of the king, were put to death by his orders or his influence? And has he not indeed more than once openly declared in his public memorials, that nothing should induce him to pardon the murderers of his father? Confider, therefore, whether this narrative of yours be likely to be true, which, the more it commends the father, reviles the fon. Next, digreffing from your purpofe, you not only make the royal blood invoke the vengeance of heaven, but the people clamour against the parliament. You forget your own enormities at home, to engage in foreign confiderations,

Ee 2

« PreviousContinue »