« PreviousContinue »
anthority, I mean, lawful; there are many unlawful authorities in the world, thieves and robbers by the high ways; but I would know by what authority I was brought from thence, and carried from place to place, (and I know not what); and when I know by what lawful auThority, I shall answer. Remember I am your King, and what sins you bring upon your heads, add the judgment of God upon this land : think well upon it, I say, think well upon it, before you go further from one sin to a greater; therefore let me know by what lawful authority I am seated here, and I shall not be unwilling to answer; in the mean time I shall not betray my trust. I have a trust committed to me by God, by old and lawful descent; I will not betray it to answer to a new unlawful authority, therefore resolve me that, and you shall hear more of me.'
President. If you had been pleased to have observed what was hinted to you, by the Court, at your first coming hither, you would have known by what authority ; which authority, requires you in the name of the people of England, of which you are elected King, to answer them.
King. No, Sir, I deny that.' President. If you acknowledge not the authority of the Court, they must proceed.
King: • I do tell them so, England was never an elective kingdom, but an hereditary kingdom for near these thousand years, therefore let me know by what authority I am called hither. I do stand here more for the liberty of my people, than any here that come to be my pretended judges; and therefore let me know by what lawful authority I am seated here, and I will answer it, otherwise I will not answer it.
President. Sir, how really you have managed your trust, is known: your way of answer is to interrogate the Court, which beseems not you in this condition. You have been told of it twice or thrice.
King:. . Here is a gentleman (Lieutenant-Colonel Cobbet), ask him, if he did not bring me from the Isle of Wight by force I do not come here as submitting to the Court. I will stand as much for the privilege of the House of Commons, rightly understood, as any man here whatsoever. I see no House of Lords here that may constitute a Parliament, and (the King too) should have been. Is this the bringing of the King to his Parliament? Is this the bringing an end to the treaty in the public faith of the world ? Let me see a legal authority, warranted by the word of God, the scriptures, or warranted by the constitutions of the kingdom, and I will answer.
President. Sir, you have propounded a question, and have been answered: seeing you will not answer, the Court will consider how to proceed; in the mean tiine, those that brought you hither, are to take. charge of you back again.
The Court desires to know whether this be all the answer you will give or no ?
King Sir, I desire that you will give me, and all the world, satisfaction in this; let me tell you, it is not a slight thing you are about. I am sworn to keep the peace by that duty I owe to God and my country, and I will do it to the last breath of my body, and therefore you shall do well to satisfy first God, and then the country, by what authority you do it; if you do it by an usurped authority, that will not last long. There is a God in Heaven that will call you, and all that give you power, to account. Satisfy me in that, and I will answer, otherwise I betray my trust, and the liberties of the people ; and there fore think of that, and then I shall be willing. For I do avow, that it is as great a sin to withstand lawful authority, as it is to submit to a tyrannical, or any other ways unlawful authority; and therefore satisfy God, and me, and all the world in that, and you shall receive my answer. 1 am not afraid of the bill.'
President. The Court expects you should give them a final answer ; their purpose is to adjourn till Monday next, if you do not satisfy yourself, though we do tell you our authority; we are satisfied with our authority, and it is upon God's authority and the kingdom's; and that peace you speak of will be kept in the doing of justice, and that's our present work.
King. Let me tell you, if you will shew me what lawful authority you have, I shall be satisfied : but that you have hitherto said, satisfies no reasonable man.'
President. That's in your apprehension; we think it reasonable that are your Judges.
King. ''I'is not my apprehension, nor your's neither, that ought to decide it.'
President. The Court hath heard you, and you are to be disposed, of as they have commanded.
Two things were remarkable in this day's proceedings. 1. It is observed, that as the charge was reading against the King, the silver head of his staff fell off, the which he wondered at, and see ing none to take it up, he stooped for it himself, and put it in bis pocket.
2. That as the King was going away, he looking with a very austere countenance upon the Court, without stirring of his hat, replied, Well Sir, (when the Lord President commanded the guard to take him away); and at his going down, he said, I do not fear that, (pointing with his staff at the sword). The people in the Hall, as he went down the stairs, cried out, some, God save the King, and some for Justice.
O yes, being called, the Court adjourned till Monday next, January 22, at nine in the morning, to the painted Chamber, and from thence to the same place again in Westminster-Hall.
January 21, being Sunday, the Commissioners kept a fast at Whitehall; there preached Mr. Sprigge, his text was, He that sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed : next Mr. Foxley, his text, Judge not, least you be judged: last, was Mr. Peters, his text was, i will bind their Kings in chains, and their nobles in fetters of iron. At the High Court of Justice, sitting in Westminster-Hall, Monday,
January 22, 1648. O yes made : silence commanded : the Court called, and answered to their names.
Silence commanded upon pain of imprisonment, and the Captain of the guard to apprehend all such as make disturbance.
Upon the King's coming in, a shout was made.
Command given by the Court to the Captain of the guard, to fetch and take into his custody those who make any disturbance.
Mr. Solicitor. May it please your Lordship, my Lord President, ! did at the Court in the behalf of the Commons of England, exhibit and give into this Court a charge of high treason, and other high crimes, against the prisoner at the bar, whereof I do accuse him in the name of the people of England, and the charge was read unto him, and his answer required. My Lord, he was not then pleased to give an answer, but instead of answering, did there dispute the authority of this High Court. My humble motion to this High Court in behalf of the people of England, is, that the prisoner many be directed to make a positive answer, either by way of confession or negation ; which if he shall refuse to do, that the matter of charge may be taken pro confesso, and the Court may proceed according to justice.
President. Sir, you may remember at the last Court, you were told the occasion of your being brought hither, and you heard a charge against you containing a charge of high treason, and other high crimes,
against this realm of England; you heard likewise that it was prayed in the behalf of the people, that you should give an answer to that charge, that thereupon such proceedings might be bad, as should be agreeable to justice; you were then pleased to make some scruples concerning the authority of this Court, and knew not by what authority you were brought hither ; you did divers times propound your questions, and were as often answered, that it was by authority of the Commons of England assembled in Parliament, that did think fit to call you to account for those high and capital misdemeanours wherewith you were then charged. Since that, the Court hath taken into consideration wbat you then said: they are fully satisfied with their own authority, and they hold it fit you should stand satisfied with it too; and they do require it, that you do give a positive and particular answer to this charge that is exhibited against you ; they do expect you should either confess or deny it; if you deny, it is offered in the behalf of the nation to be made good against you; their authority they do avow to the whole world, that the whole kingdom are to rest satisfied in, and you are to rest satisfied with it, and therefore you are to lose no more time, but to give a positive answer thereunto.
King. When I was here last, 'tis true I made that question, and truly if it were only my own particular case, I would have satisfied myself with the protestation I made the last time I was here, against the legality of this Court, and that a King cannot be tried by any su. perior jurisdiction on earth ; but it is not my case alone, it is the freedom and the liberty of the people of England ; and do you pretend what you will, I stand more for their liberties. For if power without law, may make laws, may alter the fundamental laws of the kingdom, I do not know what subject he is in England, that can be sure of his life, or any thing that he calls his own; therefore when that I came here, I did expect particular reasons to know by what law, what authority, you did proceed against me here, and therefore I am a little to seek what to say to you in this particular, because the affirmative is proved, the negative is often very hard to do; but since I cannot persuade you to do it, I shall tell you my reasons as short as I can.
My reasons why in conscience, and the duty I owe to God first, and my people next, for the preservation of their lives, liberties, and estates ; I conceive I cannot answer this, till I be satisfied of the legality of it.
All proceedings against any man whatsoever
President. Sir, I must interrupt you, which I would not do, but that what you do, is not agreeable to the proceedings of any court of justice ; you are about to enter into argument, and dispute concerning the authority of this Court, before whom you appear as a prisoner, and are charged as an high delinquent; if you take upon you to dispute the autbority of the Court, we may not do it, nor will any court give way unto it, you are to submit unto it, you are to give in a panctual and direct answer, whether you will answer to your charge or no, and what your answer is.
King. • Sir, by your favour, I do not know the forms of law, I do know law and reason, though I am no lawyer professed, yet I know as much law as any gentleman in England ; and therefore (under favour) I do plead for the liberties of the people of England more than you do, and therefore if I should impose a belief upon any man without reasons given for it, it were unreasonable ; but I must tell you, that by that reason that I have as thus informed, I cannot yield unto it.'
President. Sir, I must interrupt you, you may not be permitted ; you spake of law and reason; it is fit there should be law and reason, and there is both against you. Sir, the vote of the Commons of Eng. land assembled in Parliament, it is the reason of the kingdom, and they are these too that have given that law, according to which you should have ruled and reigned. Sir, you are not to dispute our authority, you are told it again by the Court. Sir, it will be taken notice of, that you stand in contempt of the Court, and your contempt will be recorded accordingly. King
1 do not know how a King can be a delinquent; not by any law that ever I heard of, all men (delinquents or what you will) let me tell you, they may put in demurrers against any proceedings as legal; and I do demand that, and demand to be heard with my reasons : if you deny that, you deny reason.'
President. Sir, you have offered something to the Court, I shall speak something unto you the sense of the Court: Sir, neither you nor any man are permitted to dispute that point; you are concluded, you may not demur the jurisdiction of the Court; if you do, I must let you know, that they over-rule your demurrer, they sit here by the authority of the Commons of England, and all your predecesa sors, and you are responsible to them.
King. I deny that; shew me one precedent
President. Sir, you ought not to interrupt while the Court is speak. ing to you; this point is not to be debated by you, neither will the