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Concerning his "coronation oath," what it was, and how far it bound him, already hath been spoken. This we may take for certain, that he was never sworn to his own particular conscience and reason, but to our conditions as a free people, which required him to give us such laws as ourselves should choose. This the Scots could bring him to, and would not be baffled with the pretence of a coronation oath, after that episcopacy had for many years been settled there. Which concession of his to them, and not to us, he seeks here to put off with evasions that are ridiculous. And, to omit no shifts, he alleges that the presbyterian manners gave him no encouragement to like their modes of government. If that were so, yet certainly those men are in most likelihood nearer to amendment, who seek a stricter church-discipline than that of episcopacy, under which the most of them learned their manners. If estimation were to be made of God's law by their manners, who, leaving Egypt, received it in the wilderness, it could reap from such an inference as this nothing but rejection and disesteem. For the prayer wherewith he closes, it had been good some safe liturgy, which he so commends, had rather been in his way; it would perhaps in some measure have performed the end for which they say liturgy was first invented; and have hindered him both here, and at other times, from turning his notorious errors into his prayers.
Upon the Uxbridge Treaty, &c.
"IF the way of treaties be looked upon " in general, as retiring" from bestial force to human reason, his first aphorism here is in part deceived. For men may treat like beasts as well as fight. If some fighting were not manlike, then either fortitude were no virtue, or no fortitude in fighting. And as politicians ofttimes through dilatory purposes and emulations handle the matter, there hath been nowhere found more bestiality than in treating; which hath no more commendations in it, than from fighting to come to undermining, from violence to craft; and when they can no longer do as lions, to do as foxes.
The sincerest end of treating after war once proclaimed is,
either to part with more, or to demand less, than was at first fought for, rather than to hazard more lives, or worse mischiefs. What the parliament in that point were willing to have done, when first after the war begun, they petitioned him at Colnbrook to vouchsafe a treaty, is not unknown.* For after he had taken God to witness of his continual readiness to treat, or to offer treaties to the avoiding of bloodshed, had named Windsor the place of treaty, and passed his royal word not to advance further, till commissioners by such a time were speeded towards him; taking the advantage of a thick mist, which fell that evening-weather that soon invited him to a design no less treacherous and obscure-he follows at the heels of those messengers of peace with a train of covert
* The whole history of this transaction, so highly dishonourable to the king's character both as a prince and as a man, is given, though in very cautious language, by Clarendon. On receiving the petition of the parliament, worded in the most respectful and conciliating terms, he put on his hypocritical mask of piety, the common resource of all tyrants, and replied, "We take God to witness, how deeply we are affected with the miseries of this kingdom, which heretofore we have striven as much as in us lay to prevent," &c.; and finally agrees to treat of peace. Clarendon appears to admit that, had the king acted honourably on this occasion, the parliament would have withdrawn their garrison from Windsor, and negotiations would have ensued that might probably have ended in peace. "And sure the king resolved to have done so," he says, that is, to have retired to Reading," or at least to have stayed at Colnbrook till he heard again from the parliament. But Prince Rupert, exalted with the terror he heard his name gave to the enemy, trusting too much to the vulgar intelligence every man received from his friends at London, who, according to their own passions and the affections of those with whom they corresponded, concluded that the king had so great a party in London, that if his army drew near, no resistance would be made, without any direction from the king, the very next morning after the committee returned to London, advanced with the horse and dragoons to Hounslow, and then sent to the king to desire him that the army might advance after; which was, in that case, of absolute necessity; for the Earl of Essex had a part of his army at Brentford, and the rest at Acton and Kingston." But they were treating of peace, and there could be no danger. However, while the parliament were deliberating upon peace, Charles, protesting before God that he had the welfare of the people at heart, advanced through the "treacherous mist," against Brentford, where, being opposed by the Earl of Essex's troops, "the king's forces entered the town after a very warm service, the chief officers and many soldiers of the other side being killed; and they took there above five hundred prisoners, eleven colours, and fifteen pieces of cannon, and good store of ammunition. But this victory (for considering the place, it might well be called so) proved not at all fortunate to his majesty." (History, &c. iii. 325-328.)-Ed.
war; and with a bloody surprise falls on our secure forces, which lay quartering at Brentford, in the thoughts and expectation of a treaty. And although in them who make a trade of war, and against a natural enemy, such an onset might in the rigour of martial law have been excused, while arms were not yet by agreement suspended; yet by a king, who seemed so heartily to accept of treating with his subjects, and professes here," he never wanted either desire or disposition to it," professes to have "greater confidence in his reason than in his sword, and as a Christian to seek peace and ensue it," such bloody and deceitful advantages would have been forborne one day at least, if not much longer; in whom there had not been a thirst rather than a detestation of civil war and blood, and a desire to subdue rather than to treat.
In the midst of a second treaty, not long after sought by the parliament, and after much ado obtained with him at Oxford, what subtle and unpeaceable designs he then had in chase, his own letters discovered; what attempts of treacherous hostility, successful and unsuccessful, he made against Bristol, Scarborough, and other places, the proceedings of that treaty will soon put us in mind; and how he was so far from granting more of reason after so much of blood, that he denied then to grant what before he had offered; making no other use of treaties pretending peace, than to gain advantages that might enable him to continue war. What marvel then if" he thought it no diminution of himself," as oft as he saw his time, to be "importunate for treaties," when he sought them only, as by the upshot appeared, " to get opportunities?" And once to a most cruel purpose, if we remember, May 1643. And that messenger of peace from Oxford, whose secret message and commission, had it been effected, would have drowned the innocence of our treating, in the blood of a designed massacre. Nay, when treaties from the parliament sought out him no less than seven times, (oft enough to testify the willingness of their obedience, and too oft for the majesty of a parliament to court their subjection,) he, in the confidence of his own strength, or of our divisions, returned us nothing back but denials, or delays, to their most necessary demands; and being at lowest, kept up still and sustained his almost famished hopes with the hourly expectation of raising
up himself the higher, by the greater heap which he sat promising himself of our sudden ruin through dissension.
But he infers, as if the parliament would have compelled him to part with something of "his honour as a king." What honour could he have or call his, joined not only with the offence or disturbance, but with the bondage and destruction of three nations? whereof, though he be careless and improvident, yet the parliament, by our laws and freedom, ought to judge, and use prevention; our laws else were but cobweb laws. And what were all his most rightful bonours, but the people's gift, and the investment of that lustre, majesty, and honour, which for the public good, and no otherwise, redounds from a whole nation into one person? So far is any honour from being his to a common mischief and calamity. Yet still he talks on equal terms with the grand representative of that people, for whose sake he was a king; as if the general welfare and his subservient rights were of equal moment or consideration. His aim indeed hath ever been to magnify and exalt his borrowed rights and prerogatives above the parliament and kingdom, of whom he holds them. But when a king sets himself to bandy against the highest court and residence of all his regal power, he then, in the single person of a man, fights against his own majesty and kingship, and then indeed sets the first hand to his own deposing.
"The treaty at Uxbridge," he saith, "gave the fairest hopes of a happy composure;" fairest indeed, if his instructions to bribe our commissioners with the promise of security, rewards, and places, were fair. What other hopes it gave, no man can tell. There being but three main heads whereon to be treated-Ireland, episcopacy, and the militia; the first was anticipated and forestalled by a peace at any rate to be hastened with the Irish rebels, ere the treaty could begin, that he might pretend his word and honour passed against "the specious and popular arguments" (he calls them no better) which the parliament would urge upon him for the continuance of that just war. Episcopacy he bids the queen be confident he will never quit; which informs us by what patronage it
* Yet it was her advice that he should quit it; and Sir William Davenant was dispatched over from France, in the hope of prevailing on him to abandon episcopacy, which she despised, as much as he superstitiously reverenced it. (Clarendon, v. 411.) The historian, indeed, relates, that she
stood; and the sword he resolves to clutch as fast, as if God with his own hand had put it into his. This was the "moderation which he brought;" this was, " as far as reason, honour, conscience," and the queen, who was his regent in all these, "would give him leave."
Lastly," for composure," instead of happy, how miserable it was more likely to have been, wise men could then judge; when the English, during treaty, were called rebels; the Irish, good and catholic subjects; and the parliament beforehand, though for fashion's sake called a parliament, yet, by a jesuitical sleight, not acknowledged, though called so; but privately in the council books enrolled no parliament: that if accommodation had succeeded, upon what terms soever, such a devilish fraud was prepared, that the king in his own esteem had been absolved from all performance, as having treated with rebels and no parliament; and they, on the other side, instead of an expected happiness, had been brought under the hatchet. Then no doubt "war had ended," that massacre and tyranny might begin. These jealousies, however raised, let all men see whether they be diminished or allayed by the letters of his own cabinet opened. And yet the breach of this treaty is laid all upon the parliament and their commissioners, with odious names of "pertinacy, hatred of peace, faction, and covetousness," nay, his own brat, "superstition," is laid to their charge; notwithstanding his here professed resolution to continue both the order, maintenance, and authority of prelates, as a truth of God.
And who " were most to blame in the unsuccessfulness of
was never advised by those who either understood or valued his true interests;" "which," observes Warburton, "is one of the severest things he has permitted himself to say of this wicked woman.” (vii. 617.)-Ed.
*It seems to be admitted on all hands that such was the hypocrisy and duplicity of Charles the First's character, that no one could trust him. For in 1647, when the Scotch commissioners waited on him at Hampton Court, and many officers of the army seemed desirous of serving his cause, a dread of his jesuitical principles arose, and checked them. "If those who at this time governed the army had any real intention of restoring the king, they certainly were diverted from the duplicity they discovered in the king's character, manifested in this negotiation with the Scotch commissioners." (Warburton, Notes on Clarendon, vii. 618, 619.) And again: "The king, by all the accounts of that time, even by some of those wrote by his own servants, acted a double and disingenuous part with those who governed the army." ."-ED