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indignation of the Parliament, by saying that he meant 'the king and his family.'
The assemblage unanimously condemned such sentiments, and he was sent to the Tower; though, shortly afterwards, his sentence was reversed, and he was set at liberty, and allowed to take his seat again in the House of Commons.
To disloyalty he added hypocrisy; and although an avowed sceptic, pretended to belong to the Independents, and joined Oliver Cromwell in every scheme promoted by him to bring about the ecclesiastical downfall of England, as well as in aiding every plan tending to abolish the monarchy and behead the king. When Charles was undergoing his mock trial, Oliver Cromwell and Henry Marten were among his judges, and were both in the painted chamber as Charles landed at Whitehall. Cromwell started up and ran to the window, and saw the king coming up the garden.
At the sight of his betrayed sovereign, he is said to have gone back to his seat embarrassed and pale as death.
He said to the Board: 'My masters, he is come, and we are now doing that great work that the
nation will be full of; therefore I desire you to let us resolve what answer we shall give to the king when he comes before us, for the first question he will ask us will be, "By what authority and commission do we try him?""
The whole council were silent. Perhaps, even at that eleventh moment, some gleam of remorse may have visited the hearts of all save the implacable one of Henry Marten. Recovering himself immediately from the effect produced by Cromwell's question, he exclaimed, in a firm voice, 'In the name of the Commons and Parliament assembled, and all the good people of England;' and this was the answer given to the king when he asked by whose commands and authority he was put upon his trial. At the king's trial, Marten's demeanour was flippant, as well as unfeeling. Charles' death-warrant was signed by him on that occasion. When Cromwell took up the pen to sign it, he is said to have bespattered Marten's face with ink; and when it came to Marten's turn to sign, he is said to have tried the same 'frolic' on Cromwell.
Such was the conduct of these men when they
'doomed their king to die.'
These facts were
proved when Marten was tried in 1660. With all this, his manners were so elegant, and his quickness of thought, vivacity, and charming gaiety so great, that he appears to have fascinated the grave and austere Republican chiefs, and to have influenced. them a great deal in their counsels.
To this inconsistent character were referred all the alterations ordered to be made in the Great Seal and public arms after the king's death, and the establishment of the Commonwealth. On the Great Seal, by his orders, one side displayed a map of England; the reverse a picture of the House of Commons, with this legend round it: In the first year of freedom, by God's blessing, restored, 1648.' The current coin of the realm displayed St. George's Cross—a strange emblem for Henry Marten to have chosen-encircled with a palm and olive branch, and the words 'The Commonwealth of England,' and on the other side 'God with us, 1648;' and some royalist wit is said to have exclaimed, on taking one of those coins, 'that God and the Commonwealth were not on the same side.'
The Republican party appeared as if unable to
recompense Marten sufficiently for the services he had rendered, as they thought, to his country.
In 1649, the House of Commons settled a thousand a year on him out of the Duke of Buckingham's estate at Emersham; and he was constantly having presents of money-at one time as large a sum as twenty-five thousand pounds-on various pretences, such as his having advanced money for the public service.
When Oliver Cromwell dispersed the Long Parliament, Marten fell into great pecuniary difficulties. He had dissipated his fine property in Berkshire by his reckless extravagance; and all that Oliver Cromwell could do was to give him three thousand pounds; but that sum did not keep him out of prison, and he was sent to the Bench.
When Charles the Second returned to England at the Restoration, Marten's name was absolutely excepted from the benefit of the Act of Oblivion' passed by that monarch.
Marten, however, wisely surrendered himself. He was put on his trial on the 10th of October 1660, at the Sessions House in the Old Bailey, and was found guilty of high treason.
He petitioned Parliament for mercy; and although many of the graver and more sober members of the House of Commons were for his punishment by death, so great had been his former popularity, and so many in that assemblage had known him in former days, that he obtained a reprieve from the sentence of death, which was changed to that of imprisonment for life.
After occupying two or three prisons, he was finally sent to Chepstow Castle, accompanied by his wife and family.
They viewed his crime in its just colours; though Marten, unrepentant to the last, would often burst forth into bitter invective against the rigour of his punishment.
Henry Marten remained in Chepstow Castle twenty years, and died, suddenly, in 1681, at seventy-eight years of age, broken down in health, fortune, and spirits. His remains were buried in the chancel of Chepstow Church, till one of the vicars of the parish had them removed, objecting that even the lifeless body of a regicide should not be allowed near the altar of a church.
It is a relief to turn from the story of a man