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in good governments they happen seldomest,* and rise not without cause, if they prove extreme and pernicious, they were never counted so to monarchy,† but to monarchical tyranny; and extremes one with another are at most antipathy. If then the king so extremely stood in fear of tumults, the inference will endanger him to be the other extreme. Thus far the occasion of this discourse against tumults: now to the discourse itself, voluble enough, and full of sentence, but that, for the most part, either specious rather than solid, or to his cause nothing pertinent.
"He never thought anything more to presage the mischiefs that ensued, than those tumults." Then was his foresight but short, and much mistaken. Those tumults were but the mild effects of an evil and injurious reign; not signs of mischiefs to come, but seeking relief for mischiefs past: those signs were to be read more apparent in his rage and purposed revenge of those free expostulations and clamours of the people against his lawless government. "Not anything," saith he, " portends more God's displeasure against a nation, than when he suffers the clamours of the vulgar to pass all bounds of law and reverence to authority." It portends rather his displeasure against a tyrannous king, whose proud throne he intends to overturn by that contemptible vulgar; the sad cries and oppressions of whom his loyalty regarded not. As for that supplicating people, they did no hurt either to law or authority, but stood for it rather in the parliament against whom they feared would violate it.
"That they invaded the honour and freedom of the two houses," is his own officious accusation, not seconded by the parliament, who, had they seen cause, were themselves best able to complain. And if they "shook and menaced" any, they
Socrates used to say that a groom who, being intrusted with a stud of gentle manageable horses, should, by his ignorance and want of skill, render them vicious and unruly, would well deserve all the kicks he might happen to get from them. So among mankind, people seldom rebel against those who promote their happiness; nor are there any persons so ignorant as not to know when they are well and happily governed.-ED.
+ Here, as every where else, Milton distinguishes constitutional from absolute monarchy. Towards the former, though openly preferring a commonwealth, he expresses no hostility, regarding it as one of those forms of just and lawful government under which, if well administered, a nation may be flourishing and happy.-ED.
were such as had more relation to the court than to the commonwealth; enemies, not patrons of the people. But if their petitioning unarmed were an invasion of both houses, what was his entrance into the house of commons, besetting it with armed men? In what condition then was the honour and freedom of that house? "They forebore not rude deportments, contemptuous words and actions, to himself and his court.' "It was more wonder, having heard what treacherous hostility he had designed against the city and his whole kingdom, that they forbore to handle him as people in their rage have handled tyrants heretofore for less offences.
"They were not a short ague, but a fierce quotidian fever." He indeed may best say it, who most felt it; for the shaking was within him, and it shook him, by his own description, worse than a storm, worse than an earthquake;" Belshazzar's palsy. Had not worse fears, terrors, and envies made within him that commotion, how could a multitude of his subjects, armed with no other weapon than petitions, have shaken all his joints with such a terrible ague? Yet that the parliament should entertain the least fear of bad intentions from him or his party he endures not; but would persuade us, that " men scare themselves and others without cause: for he thought fear would be to them a kind of armour, and his design was, if it were possible, to disarm all, especially of a wise fear and suspicion; for that he knew would find weapons.
He goes on therefore with vehemence, to repeat the mischiefs done by these tumults. "They first petitioned, then protested; dictate next, and lastly overawe the parliament. They removed obstructions, they purged the houses, cast out rotten members." If there were a man of iron, such as Talus, by our poet Spenser is feigned to be, the page of Justice, who with his iron flail could do all this, and expeditiously, without those deceitful forms and circumstances of law, worse than ceremonies in religion; I say, God send it done, whether by one Talus, or by a thousand.
"But they subdued the men of conscience in parliament, backed and abetted all seditious and schismatical proposals against government, ecclesiastical and civil." Now we may perceive the root of his hatred, whence it springs. It was not the king's grace, or princely goodness, but this iron flail,
the people, that drove the bishops out of their baronies, out of their cathedrals, out of the lords' house, out of their copes and surplices, and all those papistical innovations, threw down the high-commission and star-chamber, gave us a triennial parliament, and what we most desired; in revenge whereof he now so bitterly inveighs against them; these are those seditious and schismatical proposals then by him condescended to as acts of grace, now of another name; which declares him, touching matters of church and state, to have been no other man in the deepest of his solitude, than he was before at the highest of his sovereignty.
But this was not the worst of these tumults: they played the hasty 66 midwives, and would not stay the ripening, but went straight to ripping up, and forcibly cut out abortive votes." They would not stay perhaps the Spanish demurring, and putting off such wholesome acts and counsels, as the politic cabinet at Whitehall had no mind to. But all this is complained here as done to the parliament, and yet we heard not the parliament at that time complain of any violence from the people, but from him. Wherefore intrudes he to plead the cause of parliament against the people, while the parliament was pleading their own cause against him; and against him were forced to seek refuge of the people? It is plain then, that those confluxes and resorts interrupted not the parliament, nor by them were thought tumultuous, but by him only and his court faction.
"But what good man had not rather want anything he most desired for the public good, than attain it by such unlawful and irreligious means?" As much as to say, had not rather sit still, and let his country be tyrannized, than that the people, finding no other remedy, should stand up like men, and demand their rights and liberties. This is the artificialist piece of finesse to persuade men into slavery that the wit of court could have invented. But hear how much better the moral of this lesson would befit the teacher. What good man had not rather want a boundless and arbitrary power, and those fine flowers of the crown, called prerogatives, than for them to use force and perpetual vexation to his faithful subjects, nay, to wade for them through blood and civil war? So that this and the whole bundle of those following sentences may be applied better to the convince
ment of his own violent courses, than of those pretended tumults.
"Who were the chief demagogues to send for those tumults, some alive are not ignorant." Setting aside the affrightment of this goblin word; for the king, by his leave, cannot coin English, as he could money, to be current, (and it is believed this wording was above his known style and orthography, and accuses the whole composure to be conscious of some other author,*) yet if the people were sent for, emboldened and directed by those demagogues, who, saving his Greek, were good patriots, and by his own confession men of some repute for parts and piety," it helps well to assure us there was both urgent cause, and the less danger of their coming.
Complaints were made, yet no redress could be obtained." The parliament also complained of what danger they sat in from another party, and demanded of him a guard; but it was not granted. What marvel then if it cheered them to see some store of their friends, and in the Roman, not the pettifogging sense, their clients so near about them! a defence due by nature both from whom it was offered, and to whom, as due as to their parents; though the court stormed and fretted to see such honour given to them, who were then best fathers of the commonwealth. And both the parliament and people complained, and demanded justice for those assaults, if not murders, done at his own doors by that crew of rufflers; but he, instead of doing justice on them, justified and abetted them in what they did, as in his public answer to a petition from the city may be read. Neither is it slightly to be passed over, that in the very place where blood was first drawn in this cause, at the beginning of all that followed, there was his own blood shed by the executioner: according to that sentence of divine justice, "In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine."
From hence he takes occasion to excuse that improvident and fatal error of his absenting from the parliament. "When he found that no declaration of the bishops could take place against those tumults." Was that worth his considering
* Another glance at the authorship of Dr. Gauden. Others have remarked that Charles the First's style was more simple and plain. -ED.
that foolish and self-undoing declaration of twelve cipher bishops, who were immediately appeached of treason for that audacious declaring? The bishops peradventure were now and then pulled by the rochets, and deserved another kind of pulling; but what amounted this to "the fear of his own person in the streets?" Did he not the very next day after his irruption into the house of commons, than which nothing had more exasperated the people, go in his coach unguarded into the city? Did he receive the least affront, much less violence, in any of the streets, but rather humble demeanours and supplications? Hence may be gathered, that however in his own guiltiness he might have justly feared, yet that he knew the people so full of awe and reverence to his person, as to dare commit himself single among the thickest of them, at a time when he had most provoked them.
Besides, in Scotland they had handled the bishops in a more robustious manner: Edinburgh had been full of tumults; two armies from thence had entered England against him yet after all this he was not fearful, but very forward to take so long a journey to Edinburgh; which argues first, as did also his rendition afterward to the Scots army, that to England he continued still, as he was indeed, a stranger, and full of diffidence; to the Scots only a native king, in his
* Clarendon, how adverse soever to the parliament, cannot forbear condemning the conduct of the twelve bishops, who, he says, were urged forward in their foolish career by Archbishop Williams. He is careful, indeed, to add that, by the sending of these refractory prelates to the Tower, "the reverence and veneration that formerly had been entertained for parliaments" were greatly lessened; all the while admitting "the indiscretion of those bishops, swayed by the pride and passion of that archbishop, in applying that emedy at a time when they saw all forms and rules of judgment impetuously declined, and the power of their adversaries so great, that the laws themselves submitted to their oppression; that they should, in such a storm, when the best pilot was at his prayers, and the card and compass lost, without the advice of one mariner, put themselves in such a cock boat, and to be severed from the good ship, gave that scandal and offence to all those who passionately desired to preserve their function, that they had no compassion, or regard of their persons, or what became of them; insomuch as in the whole debate in the house of commons, there was only one gentleman who spoke on their behalf, and said he did not believe they were guilty of high-treason, but that they were stark mad; and therefore desired they might be sent to Bedlam.'"- History, &c., ii. 120, 121.)-ED.