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his own. But if from his divines he have borrowed nothing, nothing out of all the magazine, and the rheum of their mellifluous prayers and meditations, let them who now mourn for him as for Thammuz, them who howl in their pulpits, and by their howling declare themselves right wolves, remember and consider in the midst of their hideous faces, when they do only not cut their flesh for him like those rueful priests whom Elijah mocked; that he who was once their Ahab, now their Josiah, though feigning outwardly to reverence churchmen, yet here hath so extremely set at nought both them and their praying faculty, that being at a loss himself what to pray in captivity, he consulted neither with the liturgy, nor with the directory, but, neglecting the huge fardell of all their honeycomb devotions, went directly where he doubted not to find better praying to his mind with Pamela, in the Countess's Arcadia.
What greater argument of disgrace and ignominy could have been thrown with cunning upon the whole clergy, than that the king, among all his priestery, and all those numberless volumes of their theological distillations, not meeting with one man or book of that coat that could befriend him with a prayer in captivity, was forced to rob Sir Philip and his captive shepherdess of their heathen orisons, to supply in any fashion his miserable indigence, not of bread, but of a single prayer to God? I say therefore not of bread, for that want may befall a good man, and yet not make him totally miserable: but he who wants a prayer to beseech God in his necessity, it is inexpressible how poor he is; far poorer within himself than all his enemies can make him. And the unfitness, the indecency of that pitiful supply which he sought, expresses yet further the deepness of his poverty.
Thus much be said in general to his prayers, and in special to that Arcadian prayer used in his captivity; enough to undeceive us what esteem we are to set upon the rest. For he certainly, whose mind could serve him to seek a Christian prayer out of a pagan legend, and assume it for his own, might gather up the rest God knows from whence; one perhaps out of the French Astræa, another out of the Spanish Diana; Amadis and Palmerin could hardly scape him. Such a person we may be sure had it not in him to make a prayer of his own, or at least would excuse himself
the pains and cost of his invention, so long as such sweet rhapsodies of heathenism and knight-errantry could yield him prayers. How dishonourable then, and how unworthy of a Christian king, were these ignoble shifts to seem holy, and to get a saintship among the ignorant and wretched people; to draw them by this deception, worse than all his former injuries, to go a whoring after him! And how unhappy, how forsook of grace, and unbeloved of God that people who resolve to know no more of piety or of goodness, than to account him their chief saint and martyr, whose bankrupt devotion came not honestly by his very prayers; but having sharked them from the mouth of a heathen worshipper, (detestable to teach him prayers!) sold them to those that stood and honoured him next to the Messiah, as his own heavenly compositions in adversity; for hopes no less vain and presumptuous (and death at that time so imminent upon him) than by these goodly reliques to be held a saint and martyr in opinion with the cheated people!
And thus far in the whole chapter we have seen and considered, and it cannot but be clear to all men, how, and for what ends, what concernments and necessities, the late king was no way induced, but every way constrained to call this last parliament; yet here in his first prayer he trembles not to avouch, as in the ears of God, "That he did it with an upright intention to his glory, and his people's good:" of which dreadful attestation, how sincerely meant, God, to whom it was avowed, can only judge; and he hath judged already, and hath written his impartial sentence in characters legible to all Christendom; and besides hath taught us, that there be some, whom he hath given over to delusion, whose very mind and conscience is defiled; of whom St. Paul to Titus makes mention.
Upon the Earl of Strafford's Death.
THIS next chapter is a penitent confession of the king, and the strangest, if it be well weighed, that ever was auricular. For he repents here of giving his consent, though most unwillingly, to the most seasonable and solemn piece of justice, that had been done of many years in the land: but his sole
conscience thought the contrary. And thus was the welfare, the safety, and, within a little, the unanimous demand of three populous nations, to have attended still on the singularity of one man's opinionated conscience; if men had always been so tame and spiritless, and had not unexpectedly found the grace to understand, that, if his conscience were so narrow and peculiar to itself, it was not fit his authority should be so ample and universal over others: for certainly a private conscience sorts not with a public calling, but declares that person rather meant by nature for a private fortune. And this also we may take for truth, that he, whose conscience thinks it sin to put to death a capital offender, will as oft think it meritorious to kill a righteous person.
But let us hear what the sin was, that lay so sore upon him, and, as one of his prayers given to Dr. Juxon testifies, to the very day of his death; it was his signing the bill of Strafford's execution; a man whom all men looked upon as one of the boldest and most impetuous instruments that the king had, to advance any violent or illegal design.* He
* Clarendon, with his usual felicity, when prejudice stands not in the way, paints the character of Strafford; and from his portrait the reader, who consults his History, (voi. i. p. 455, sqq.) and diligently compares therewith what other authors have written of him, must inevitably perceive that he was a bold bad man, haughty, ambitious, revengeful, implacable; one who aimed at distinction for the most selfish of purposes, and obtaining, used it to gratify his malignant passions. The fierce prosecution of his private feud with Lord Savill, one whose old age he ungenerously insulted, would of itself, if other proofs were wanting, sufficiently disclose the temper of the man. But the historian observes, that his "successes, applied to a nature too elate and arrogant of itself, and a quicker progress into the greatest employments and trust, made him more transported with disdain of other men, and more contemning the forms of business, than haply he would have been, if he had met with some interruptions in the beginning, and had passed in a more leisurely gradation to the office of a statesman.' "Of all his passions, his pride was most predominant; which a moderate exercise of ill fortune might have corrected and reformed; and which was by the hand of heaven strangely punished, by bringing his destruction upon him by two things that he most despised THE PEOPLE, and Sir Harry Vane." Upon this passage Warburton remarks:-"His ambition, pride, and appetite for revenge, were all exorbitant. His parts were of the first rate, and these solely directed to the gratification of his passions. What wonder then, when men found him in the station of prime-minister, they should never think themselves safe while he continued there ?" (Clarendon's History, vii. 537.) Such a character, drawn by two writers not over friendly to freedom, will prepare the reader the more readily to enter into Milton's views of Strafford. The obscure servile author of the "Vindicia Carolinæ," (p. 29-36,) imagines he has, by
had ruled Ireland, and some parts of England, in an arbitrary manner; had endeavoured to subvert fundamental laws, to subvert parliaments, and to incense the king against them; he had also endeavoured to make hostility between England and Scotland: he had counselled the king to call over that Irish army of papists, which he had cunningly raised, to reduce England, as appeared by good testimony then present at the consultation: for which and many other crimes alleged and proved against him in twenty-eight articles, he was condemned of high-treason by the parliament.
The commons by far the greater number cast him: the lords, after they had been satisfied in a full discourse by the king's solicitor, and the opinions of many judges delivered in their house, agreed likewise to the sentence of treason. The people universally cried out for justice. None were his friends but courtiers and clergymen, the worst, at that time, and most corrupted sort of men; and court ladies, not the best of women; who when they grow to that insolence as to appear active in state affairs, are the certain sign of a dissolute, degenerate, and pusillanimous commonwealth. Last of all, the king, or rather first, for these were but his apes, was not satisfied in conscience to condemn him of high-treason; and declared to both houses, "that no fears or respects whatsoever should make him alter that resolution founded upon his conscience." Either then his resolution was indeed not founded upon his conscience, or his conscience received better information, or else both his conscience and this his strong resolution struck sail, notwithstanding these glorious words, to his stronger fear; for within a few days after, when the judges, at a privycouncil, and four of his elected bishops had picked the thorn out of his conscience, he was at length persuaded to sign the bill for Strafford's execution. And yet perhaps that it wrung his conscience to condemn the earl of high-treason is not unlikely; not because he thought him guiltless of highest treason, had half those crimes been committed against his own private interest or person, as appeared plainly by his charge against the six members; but because he knew himself a principal in what the earl was but his accessory, and thought nothing treason against the commonwealth, but against himself only. his abuse, confuted Milton, and vindicated the reputation of this ape of Sylla. The comparison is Clarendon's, (History, i. 456.)—Ed.
Had he really scrupled to sentence that for treason, which he thought not treasonable, why did he seem resolved by the judges and the bishops? and if by them resolved, how comes the scruple here again? It was not then, as he now pretends, "the importunities of some, and the fear of many," which made him sign, but the satisfaction given him by those judges and ghostly fathers of his own choosing. Which of him shall we believe? for he seems not one, but double; either here we must not believe him professing that his satisfaction was but seemingly received and out of fear, or else we may as well believe that the scruple was no real scruple, as we can believe him here against himself before, that the satisfaction then received was no real satisfaction. Of such a variable and fleeting conscience what hold can be taken?
But that indeed it was a facile conscience, and could dissemble satisfaction when it pleased, his own ensuing actions declared; being soon after found to have the chief hand in a most detested conspiracy against the parliament and kingdom, as by letters and examinations of Percy, Goring, and other conspirators came to light; that his intention was to rescue the Earl of Strafford, by seizing on the Tower of London; to bring up the English army out of the North, joined with eight thousand Irish papists raised by Strafford, and a French army to be landed at Portsmouth, against the parliament and their friends. For which purpose the king, though requested by both houses to disband those Irish papists, refused to do it, and kept them still in arms to his own purposes. No marvel then, if being as deeply criminous as the earl himself, it stung his conscience to adjudge to death those misdeeds, whereof himself had been the chief author: no marvel though instead of blaming and detesting his ambition, his evil counsel, his violence, and oppression of the people, he fall to praise his great abilities; and with scholastic flourishes, beneath the decency of a king, compares him to the sun, which in all figurative use and significance bears allusion to a king, not to a subject: no marvel though he knit contradictions as close as words can lie together, "not approving in his judgment," and yet approving in his subsequent reason all that Strafford did, as "driven by the necessity of times, and the temper of that people;" for this excuses all his misdemeanors. Lastly, no marvel that