« PreviousContinue »
But when he sought to extort from us, by way of tribute, that which had been offered to him conditionally in parliament, as by a free people, and that those extortions were now consumed and wasted by the luxury of his court, he began then, (for still the more he did wrong, the more he feared,) before any tumult or insurrection of the people, to take counsel how he might totally subdue them to his own will. Then was the design of German horse, while the duke reigned; and, which was worst of all, some thousands of the Irish papists were in several parts billetted upon us, while a parliament was then sitting. The pulpits resounded with no other doctrine than that which gave all property to the king, and passive obedience to the subject. After which, innumerable forms and shapes of new exactions and exactors overspread the land: nor was it enough to be impoverished, unless we were disarmed. Our trained bands, which are the trustiest and most proper strength of a free nation not at war with itself, had their arms in divers counties taken from them; other ammunition by design was ingrossed and kept in the Tower, not to be bought without a licence, and at a high rate.
Thus far and many other ways were his counsels and preparations beforehand with us, either to a civil war, if it should happen, or to subdue us without a war, which is all one, until the raising of his two armies against the Scots, and the latter of them raised to the most perfidious breaking of a solemn pacification: the articles whereof though subscribed with his own hand, he commanded soon after to be burned openly by the hangman. What enemy durst have done him that dishonour and affront, which he did therein to himself?
After the beginning of this parliament, whom he saw so resolute and unanimous to relieve the commonwealth, and that the Earl of Strafford was condemned to die, other of his evil counsellors impeached and imprisoned; to show there wanted not evil counsel within himself sufficient to begin a war upon his subjects, though no way by them provoked, he sends an agent with letters to the King of Denmark, requiring aid thusiastic admiration for Greece, and his hopes that she would one day be again independent.-ED.
Even the good and amiable Bishop Berkeley once preached a sermon inculcating passive obedience; and many, who have neither his learning nor his virtues, are still, in spite of the general intelligence of the age, imbued with this barbarous opinion.-ED.
against the parliament: and that aid was coming, when Divine Providence, to divert them, sent a sudden torrent of Swedes into the bowels of Denmark. He then endeavours to bring up both armies, first the English, with whom eight thousand Irish papists, raised by Strafford, and a French army were to join; then the Scots at Newcastle, whom he thought to have encouraged by telling them what money and horse he was to have from Denmark.
I mention not the Irish conspiracy till due place. These and many others were his counsels toward a civil war. His preparations, after those two armies were dismissed, could not suddenly be too open: nevertheless there were eight thousand Irish papists, which he refused to disband, though entreated by both houses, first for reasons best known to himself, next under pretence of lending them to the Spaniard; and so kept them undisbanded till very near the month wherein that rebellion broke forth. He was also raising forces in London, pretendedly to serve the Portugal, but with intent to seize the Tower; into which divers cannoniers were by him sent with many fireworks and grenadoes; and many great battering pieces were mounted against the city. The court was fortified with ammunition, and soldiers new listed, who followed the king from London, and appeared at Kingston, some hundreds of horse, in a warlike manner, with waggons of ammunition after them; the queen in Holland was buying more; of which the parliament had certain knowledge, and had not yet so much as demanded the militia to be settled, till they knew both of her going over sea, and to what intent. For she had packed up the crown jewelst to have been going long before, had not the parliament, suspecting by the discoveries at Burrowbridge what was intended with the jewels, used means to stay her journey till the winter. Hull and the magazine there
*The Marquis of Montrose went for Charles II. both into Sweden and Denmark, to solicit men, money, and arms against his country; but, after being for some time wheedled with specious promises, found that words were all he was likely to obtain. (Clarendon, vi. 409, 410.)—ED.
+ Clarendon who relates with great reluctance whatever redounds to the credit of the parliament, admits that they were very successful in obtaining information of the king's designs, which, in many cases, they could have obtained only through the treachery of the cavaliers. "Indeed their informations were wonderful particular, from all parts beyond sea, of whatsoever was agitated on the king's behalf; as well as from his court, of
had been secretly attempted under the king's hand; from whom (though in his declarations renouncing all thought of war) notes were sent oversea for the supply of arms; which were no sooner come, but the inhabitants of Yorkshire and other counties were called to arms, and actual forces raised, while the parliament were yet petitioning in peace, and had not one man listed.
As to the act of hostility, though not much material in whom first it began, or by whose commissions dated first, after such counsels and preparations discovered, and so far advanced by the king, yet in that act also he will be found to have had precedency, if not at London by the assault of his armed court upon the naked people, and his attempt upon the house of commons, yet certainly at Hull: first, by his close practices on that town; next, by his siege. Thus whether counsels, preparations, or acts of hostility be considered, it appears with evidence enough, though much more might be said, that the king is truly charged to be the first beginner of these civil wars. To which may be added as a close, that in the Isle of Wight he charged it upon himself at the public treaty, and acquitted the parliament.
But as for the securing of Hull and the public stores therein, and in other places, it was no "surprisal of his strength;" the custody whereof by authority of parliament was committed into hands most fit and most responsible for such a trust. It were a folly beyond ridiculous, to count ourselves a free nation, if the king, not in parliament, but in whatsoever was designed, or almost but thought of to himself.” (History, iii. 45.) Who, upon reading this, can fail to remember those remarkable lines of Shakspeare :
"The providence that's in a watchful state
Keeps pace with thought; and, almost like the gods,
Does even our thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles!"
In this way the parliament learned to apprehend the pawning of the crown jewels in Holland, and issued an order declaring that "whosoever had been, or should be an actor in the selling or pawning of any jewels of the crown; or had, or should pay, lend, send, or bring any money in specie into this kingdom, for or upon any of those jewels; or whosoever had or should accept of any bill from beyond the seas, for the payment of any sum of money, for or upon any of those jewels, &c. should be held and accounted as an enemy of the state, &c." (History, iii. 45, 46.)—ED.
his own person, and against them, might appropriate to himself the strength of a whole nation as his proper goods. What the laws of the land are, a parliament should know best, having both the life and death of laws in their law-giving power: and the law of England is, at best, but the reason of parliament. The parliament, therefore, taking into their hands that whereof most properly they ought to have the keeping, committed no surprisal. If they prevented him, that argued not at all either his "innocency or unpreparedness," but their timely foresight to use prevention.
But what needed that? "They knew his chiefest arms left him were those only which the ancient Christians were wont to use against their persecutors, prayers and tears."* O sacred reverence of God! respect and shame of men! whither were ye fled when these hypocrisies were uttered? Was the kingdom then at all that cost of blood to remove from him none but prayers and tears? What were those thousands of blaspheming cavaliers about him, whose mouths let fly oaths and curses by the volley: were those the prayers; and those carouses drunk to the confusion of all things good or holy, did those minister the tears? Were they prayers and tears that were listed at York, mustered on Heworth Moor, and laid siege to Hull for the guard of his person? Were prayers and tears at so high a rate in Holland, that nothing could purchase them but the crown jewels? Yet they in Holland (such word was sent us) sold them for guns, carabines, mortar-pieces, cannons, and other deadly instruments of war; which, when they came to York, were all, no doubt by the merit of some great saint, suddenly transformed into prayers and tears: and, being divided into regiments and brigades, were the only arms that mischieved us in all those battles and encounters.
These were his chief arms, whatever we must call them, and yet such arms as they who fought for the commonwealth have, by the help of better prayers, vanquished and brought to nothing. He bewails his want of the militia," not so much in reference to his own protection, as the people's, whose many and sore oppressions grieve him." Never considering how ill for seventeen years together he had protected them, and
*They who read the history of the civil wars will certainly be astonished at this declaration, and think Milton's rebuke richly deserved.-Ed.
that these miseries of the people are still his own handiwork, having smitten them, like a forked arrow, so sore into the kingdom's sides, as not to be drawn out and cured without the incision of more flesh.
He tells us, that "what he wants in the hand of power," he has in "the wings of faith and prayer." But they who made no reckoning of those wings while they had that power in their hands, may easily mistake the wings of faith for the wings of presumption, and so fall headlong. We meet next with a comparison, how apt let them judge who have travelled to Mekka, " that the parliament have hung the majesty of kingship in an airy imagination of regality, between the privileges of both houses, like the tomb of Mahomet." He knew not that he was prophesying the death and burial of a Turkish tyranny, that spurned down those laws which gave it life and being, so long as it endured to be a regulated monarchy.
He counts it an injury "not to have the sole power in himself to help or hurt any;" and that the "militia, which he holds to be his undoubted right, should be disposed as the parliament thinks fit:" and yet confesses that, if he had it in his actual disposing, he would defend those whom he calls "his good subjects from those men's violence and fraud, who would persuade the world that none but wolves are fit to be trusted with the custody of the shepherd and his flock." Surely, if we may guess whom he means here, by knowing whom he hath ever most opposed in this controversy, we may then assure ourselves that by violence and fraud he means that which the parliament hath done in settling the militia, and those the wolves into whose hands it was by them intrusted which draws a clear confession from his own mouth, that if the parliament had left him sole power of the militia, he would have used it to the destruction of them and their friends.
As for sole power of the militia, which he claims as a right no less undoubted than the crown, it hath been oft enough told him that he hath no more authority over the sword than over the law: over the law he hath none, either to establish or to abrogate, to interpret or to execute, but only by his courts and in his courts, whereof the parliament is highest; no more, therefore, hath he power of the militia,