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if men were governed by their reason and not by their passions, that excellent paper alone would have given him the victory over all his enemies. In another declaration the King said “whosoever harboured the least thought in his breast of ruining or violating the public liberty, or religion of the kingdom, let him be accursed; and he should be no counsellor of his that would not say Amen." That which he charged the leaders of parliament with, was invading the public liberty; and his presumption might be very strong and vehement, that though they had no mind to be slaves, they were not unwilling to be tyrants. What is tyranny,” said he, “ but to admit no rules to govern by, but their own wills? And they knew the misery of Athens was at the highest, when it suffered under the Thirty Tyrants.” Hobbes, whose resolute
of thinking was more in accord with the temper of Cromwell's government than of the King's, speaks with contempt of these declarations; but if Charles had been served, or known how to serve himself, as ably with the sword as with the
pen, the struggle would soon have been decided in his favour. What has been said of the son,* that he never said a foolish thing and never did a wise one, might more truly be said of the father : in him, however, it proceeded from what, in other times and other circumstances, would have been a virtue. In speaking, he expressed his own judgment; in acting, he yielded to that of others, and was ruined by want of confidence in himself, and by the fear of doing wrong.
Clarendon, who writes always with the feelings of a Christian, as well as the wisdom of a statesman, has some remarks upon the conduct of the parliament, drawn up with his characteristic candour. “ A man shall not unprofitably spend his contemplation, that, upon this occasion, considers the method of God's justice (a method terribly remarkable in many passages, and upon many persons, which we shall be compelled to remember in this discourse), that the same principles, and the same application of those principles, should be used to the wresting all sovereign power from the Crown, which the Crown had a little before made use of for the extending its authority and power beyond its bounds, to the prejudice of the just rights of the subject. A supposed necessity was then thought ground enough to create a
[* By Wilmot Lord Rochester.]
power, and a bare averment of that necessity, to beget a practice to impose what tax they thought convenient upon the subject, by writs of ship-money never before known; and à supposed necessity now, and a bare averment of that necessity, is as confidently, and more fatally, concluded a good ground, to exclude the Crown from the use of any power, by an ordinance never before heard of; and the same maxim of salus populi suprema lex, which had been used to the infringing the liberty of the one, made use of for the destroying the rights of the other.” Reflections of this kind must often have arisen in the mind of Charles himself. When, in his father's life-time, taking part in Buckingham's animosities, he promoted the impeachment of the Earls of Bristol and Middlesex, James said to him, with a foresight which has almost a prophetic character, that he would live to have his belly full of parliamentary impeachments. But he was always more sinned against than sinning: the most unjustifiable of his measures proceeded from a mistaken judgment, not an evil intention; the most unpopular of them, and that which gave the greatest advantage to his enemies (the accusation of the six members), plainly arose from a perfect confidence in his own rectitude, and the goodness of his cause.
The melancholy warning which James gave his son proved the sagacity of that king, whose talents it has been too much the custom to decry. There is an expression of Laud's which bears with it even more of a prophetic appearance, from the accidental turn of the sentence. “At this time, the parliament tendered two, and but two bills to the King to sign: this to cut off Strafford's head was one ; and the other was that this parliament should neither be dissolved nor adjourned, but by the consent of both houses: in which, what he cut off from himself, time will better shew than I can. God bless the King and his royal issue !" Charles's feelings upon that fatal bill which perpetuated the parliament, and thereby in fact transferred the sovereignty to it, are well stated in the Eικων Βασιλικη “ By this act of the
[* Clar. Hist., ed. 1826, vol. i., p. 41.]
† The authenticity of this Book has been attacked and defended with such cogent arguments and strong assertions, that as far as relates to external proofs, perhaps there is scarcely any other question in bibliography so doubtful. The internal evidence is wholly in its favour. Had it been the work of Gauden, or of any person writing to support the royal cause, a higher tone:
highest confidence, I hoped for ever to shut out and lock the door upon all present jealousies and future mistakes: I confess I did not thereby intend to shut myself out of doors, as some men have now requited me. A continual parliament, I thought, would but keep the commonweal in tune, by preserving laws in their due execution and vigour, wherein my interest lies more than any man's, since by those laws my rights as a king would be preserved, no less than my subjects; which is all I desired. More than the law gives me I would not have, and less the meanest subjeet should not. I cannot say properly that I repent of that act, since I have no reflections upon it as a sin of my will, though an error of too charitable a judgment.”
Charles appealed to that act with great force as a proof that he had no intention of recurring to arms. “Sure,” he says, "it had argued a very short sight of things, and extreme fatuity of mind in me, so far to bind my own hands at their request, if I had shortly meant to use a sword against them.” When Hampden spoke of the part which Cromwell might be expected to bear, in case they should come to a breach with the King, he deprecated such an event. But Hampden's studies were rather how to direct a civil war, than to avert one. Davila's history was so often in his hands, that it was called Colonel Hampden's prayerbook. The truth is, that a few men of daring spirit, great ability, and great popularity, some calling themselves saints because they were schismatics, others styling themselves philosophers because they were unbelievers, had determined to overthrow the existing government in church and state ; which they knew to be feasible, because circumstances favoured them, and they scrupled at nothing to bring about their end. Their plan was to force from the King all they could, and when they should concerning episcopacy and prerogative would have been taken ; there would have been more effort at justification ; and there would not have been that inefficient but conscientious defence of fatal concessions; that penitent confession of sin where weakness had been sinful; that piety without alloy; that character of mild and even magnanimity; and that heavenly-mindedness, which render the Eικων Βασιλικη one of the most interesting books in our language.
[There is very little testimony on Gauden's side, (strictly speaking, perhaps, none at all,) except his own
There is a mass of testimony which shows that the king had the book continually in his hand, revised it much, and had many transcripts of it.-SOUTHEY, Quar. Rev., No. lxxiii., p. 249.]
have disarmed him of all power and means for the struggle, then to provoke him by insults and unreasonable demands, till he should appeal to the sword. This Charles himself saw. grand maxim with them was," he says, always to ask something which in reason and honour must be denied, that they might have some colour to refuse all that was in other things granted ; setting peace at as high a rate as the worst effects of war; endeavouring first to make me destroy myself by dishonourable concessions, that so they might have the less to do.” English,” says Hobbes, “would never have taken well that the Parliament should make war upon the King upon any provocation, unless it were in their own defence, in case the King should first make war upon them; and therefore it behoved them to provoke the King, that he might do something that might look like hostility.” “ Therefore (he elsewhere adds) they resolved to proceed with him like skilful hunters, first to single him out by men disposed in all parts, to drive him into the open field, and then in case he should but seem to turn head, to call that a making of war against the Parliament."
Never was poor prince more miserably unprepared for such a contest than Charles, when he had no other alternative than to descend into the pit which his enemies had dug for him, or to raise his standard. When that determination was taken he had not“ one barrel of gunpowder, nor one musket, nor any other provision necessary for an army; and, which was worse, was not sure of any port, to which they might be securely assigned ; nor had he money for the support of his own table for the term of one month."
The single ship which reached him with supplies by running ashore, brought about 200 barrels of powder, 2000 or 3000 arms, and seven or eight field-pieces; and with this he took the field, but in so helpless and apparently hopeless a condition, that even after he had set up that standard, which was so ominously blown down by a tempest, Clarendon says, it must solely be imputed to his own resolution, that he did not even then go to London and throw himself on the mercy of the parliament, which would have been surrendering at discretion to an enemy
that gave no quarter. But he relied upon the goodness of his cause, and upon the loyalty and love of his subjects. That reliance did not deceive him: the gentlemen of England came
forward with a spirit which enabled him to maintain the contest no inconsiderable time upon equal terms, and which, under the direction of more vigorous counsels, might many times have given him complete success. But it was otherwise appointed, Whoever has attentively perused the history of those unhappy years must have perceived that this war, more perhaps than any other of which the events have been recorded, was determined rather by accidents, and blunders, than by foreseen and prepared combinations. The man who most contributed to the King's utter overthrow by his actions, and the only man who from the beginning perceived wherein the strength of the King lay, and by what principle it might be opposed with the surest prospect of success, was Cromwell.
During the proceedings which provoked the war, Cromwell took no conspicuous part, but he was one of that number upon whose votes the leaders of the disaffected party could always rely. He was sincerely a puritan in his religious notions, in that respect more sincere than many of those with whom he thep acted: for political speculations he probably cared less; but being a resolute man, and one whose purposes were straight forward, though he frequently proceeded by erooked ways, he, like his cousin Hampden, when he drew the sword, threw away the scabbard. When the war began, he received a captain's commission, and raised a troop of horse in his own country. Then it was that he gave the first proof of that sagacity which made him afterwards the absolute master of three kingdoms : in what manner it was now exercised may best be told in his own curious words. “ I was a person,” said he, “that from
first employment was suddenly preferred and lifted up from lesser trusts to greater, from my first being a captain of a troop of horse; and I did labour as well as I could, to discharge my trust: and God blessed me as it pleased him ; and I did truly and plainly; and then in a way of foolish simplicity (as it was judged by very great and wise men, and good men too) desired to make my instruments to help me in this work; and I will deal plainly with you; I had a very worthy friend then, and he was a very
person, and I know his memory is very grateful to all, Mr. John Hampden. At my first going out into this engagement, I saw their men were beaten at every hand; I did indeed, and desired him