« AnteriorContinuar »
that glorious deeds done to ambitious ends find reward answerable, not to their outward seeming, but to their inward ambition. In the meanwhile, what thanks he had from the king for revolting to his cause, and what good opinion for dying in his service, they who have ventured like him, or intend, may here take notice.
126. He proceeds to declare, not only in general wherefore God's judgment was upon Hotham, but undertakes by fancies, and allusions, to give a criticism upon every particular, “ that his head was divided from his body, because his heart was divided from the king; two heads cut off in one family for affronting the head of the commonwealth; the eldest son being infected with the sin of his father, against the father of his country.” These petty glosses and conceits on the high and secret judgments of God, besides the boldness of unwarrantable commenting, (53) are so weak and
(53) It is not at all surprising to find the author of the “ Eikon Basilike,” whether king or prelate, indecently triumphing over the fate of these unhappy men, whose fluctuations of principle, though favourable to the court, could not fail to excite even his contempt. “I cannot but observe,” he says, “how God, not long after, so pleaded and avenged my cause, in the eye of the world, that the most wilfully blind cannot avoid the displeasure to see it, and with some remorse and fear to own it as a notable stroke and prediction of divine vengeance.” It may be remarked, that wicked men in authority always pretend to think heaven greatly interested in pleading their cause, and avenging any thing and every thing that offends them. But let us hear him. “For Sir John Hotham, unreproached, unthreatened,” (not if Clarendon speaks truth,) “uncursed by any lan. guage or secret imprecation of mine," (he appears, however, to
shallow, and so like the quibbles of a court sermon, that we may safely reckon them either fetched from such a pattern, or that the band of some household
speak as if this had been his usual practice,) “ only blasted with the conscience of his own wickedness, and falling from one inconstancy to another, not long after pays his own and his son's head as forfeitures to their disloyalty, to those men from whom surely he might have expected another reward than thus to divide their heads from their bodies, whose hearts in them were divided from their king.” (Eikon Basilikè, p. 45.) The writer, we see, has his pretty conceits upon the dividing of heads from bodies, &c., and plays with the thought as if it pleased him. No doubt his charity led him to desire a few more such occasions of uttering witty sayings : but to proceed, “Nor did a solitary vengeance serve the turn; the cutting off one head in a family is not enough to expiate the affront done to the head of the commonwealth.” (Accordingly, in Japan, when a man affronts the emperor, all his kindred, men, women, and chil. dren, are put to the sword in a magnificent style.) “The eldest son must be involved in the punishment, as he was infected with the sin of the father against the father of his country : root and branch God cuts off in one day.” (Idem. p. 46.) I defy any person to produce from the writings of any, the most bigoted author of those days, an example of more savage fanaticism than this. But what shall we say, when Clarendon so far forgets the rebuke of our Saviour, and the reverence due to God, as to indulge in the following strain ? “ This was the woful tragedy of these two unhappy gentlemen; in which there were so many circumstances of an unusual nature, that the immediate hand of Almighty God could not but appear in it to all men who knew their natures, humours, and transactions." (History, v. 121.) This impiety did not escape Warburton, but he is content with denominating it weakness. “ Perhaps this was as weak a remark as the historian ever made, certainly unworthy of him. These men did not act more against conscience in siding with parliament against the king than many others : they were not distinguished for their violence in opposition, and they returned to their obedience sooner ; and yet these are picked out for the objects of divine vengeance." (vol. vii. p. 606.)
priest foisted them in; lest the world should forget how much he was a disciple of those cymbal doctors. But that argument, by which the author would commend them to us, discredits them the more: for if they be so “obvious to every fancy,” the more likely to be erroneous, and to misconceive the mind of those high secrecies, whereof they presume to determine. For God judges not by human fancy.
127. But however God judged Hotham, yet he had the king's pity. But mark the reason how preposterous; so far he had his pity, “as he thought he at first acted more against the light of his conscience, than many other men in the same cause.” Questionless they who act against conscience, whether at the bar of human or divine justice, are pitied least of all. These are the common grounds and verdicts of nature, whereof when he who hath the judging of a whole nation is found destitute, under such a governor that nation must needs be miserable. By the way he jerks at “some men's reforming to models of religion, and that they think all is gold of piety, that doth but glister with a show of zeal.” We know his meaning, and apprehend how little hope there could be of him from such language as this : but are sure that the piety of his prelatic model glistered more upon the posts and pillars, which their zeal and fervency gilded over, than in the true works of spiritual edification.
128. “He is sorry that Hotham felt the justice of others, and fell not rather into the hands of his
mercy.” But to clear that, he should have shown us what mercy he had ever used to such as fell into his hands (54) before, rather than what mercy he intended to such as never could come to ask it. Whatever mercy one man might have expected, it is too well known the whole nation found none; though they besought it often, and so humbly; but had been swallowed up in blood and ruin, to set his private will above the parliament, had not his strength failed him. “ Yet clemency he counts a debt, which he ought to pay to those that crave it; since we pay not any thing to God for his mercy but prayers and praises.” By this reason we ought as freely to pay all things to all men; for all that we receive from God, what do we pay for, more than prayers and praises ? We looked for the discharge of his office, the payment of his duty to the kingdom, and are paid court-payment, with empty sentences that have the sound of gravity, but the significance of nothing pertinent.
(54) What opinion was entertained of his mercy we may learn from the following anecdote related by his apologist. “Before his going (to Hampton Court,) he sent to the Earls of Essex and Holland to attend him in his journey ; who were both by their places, the one being lord chamberlain of his household, the other the first gentleman of his bed-chamber, or groom of the stole, obliged to that duty. The Earl of Essex resolved to go ; and to that purpose was making himself ready, when the Earl of Holland came to him, and privately dissuaded him ; assuring him that if they two went, they should be both murdered at Hampton Court.” (Clarendon, ii. 163.) Upon this Warburton significantly remarks :-" The Earl of Essex was no fool. What an idea must this give us of the king's known character !” (Notes on Clarendon, vii. 548.)
129. Yet again after his mercy past and granted, he returns back to give sentence upon Hotham ; and whom he tells us he would so fain have saved alive, him he never leaves killing with a repeated condemnation, though dead long since. It was ill that somebody stood not near to whisper him, that a reiterating judge is worse than a tormentor. “ He pities him, he rejoices not, he pities bim” again; but still is sure to brand him at the tail of his pity with some ignominious mark, either of ambition or disloyalty. And with a kind of censorious pity ag. gravates rather than lessens or conceals the fault: to pity thus, is to triumph. He assumes to foreknow, that " after-times will dispute, whether Hotham were more infamous at Hull, or at Towerhill.” What knew he of after-times, who, while he sits judging and censuring without end the fate of that unhappy father and his son at Tower-hill, knew not the like fate attended him before his own palace gate; and as little knew whether after-times reserve not a greater infamy to the story of his own life and reign ?
130. He says but over again in his prayer what his sermon hath preached : how acceptably to those in heaven we leave to be decided by that precept, which forbids“ vain repetitions.” Sure enough it lies as heavy as he can lay it upon the head of poor Hotham. Needs he will fasten upon God a piece of revenge as done for his sake; and take it for a favour, before he know it was intended him : which in his closet had been excusable, but in a written and published prayer too presumptuous. Eccle