Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

them, and they to obtain their rights had granted him, than would have bought the Turk out of Morea, and set free all the Greeks. (64)

156. But when he sought to extort from us, by way of tribute, that which had been offered to him conditionally in parliament, as by a free people, and that those extortions were now consumed and wasted by the luxury of his court, he began then, (for still the more he did wrong, the more he feared,) before any tumult or insurrection of the people, to take counsel how he might totally subdue them to his own will. Then was the design of German horse, while the duke reigned; and which was worst of all, some thousands of the Irish papists were in several parts billetted upon us, while a parliament was then sitting. The pulpits resounded with no other doctrine than that which gave all property to the king, and passive obedience (65) to the subject. After which, innumerable forms and shapes of new exactions and exactors overspread the land : nor was it enough to be impoverished, unless we were disarmed. Our trained bands, which are the trustiest and most proper strength of a free nation not at war with itself, had

(64) See among the Familiar Letters those two (Nos. 12 and 15) addressed to Leonard Philaras, a noble Athenian, in which he gives vent to his enthusiastic admiration for Greece, and his hopes that she would one day be again independent.

(65) Even the good and amiable Bishop Berkeley once preached a sermon inculcating passive obedience ; and many, who have neither his learning nor his virtues, are still, in spite of the general intelligence of the age, imbued with this barbarous opinion.

their arms in divers counties taken from them; other ammunition by design was ingrossed and kept in the Tower, not to be bought without a licence, and at a high rate.

157. Thus far and many other ways were his counsels and preparations beforehand with us, either to a civil war, if it should happen, or to subdue us without a war, which is all one, until the raising of his two armies against the Scots, and the latter of them raised to the most perfidious breaking of a solemn pacification : the articles whereof though subscribed with his own hand, he commanded soon after to be burned openly by the hangman. What enemy durst have done him that dishonour and affront, which he did therein to himself?

158. After the beginning of this parliament, whom he saw so resolute and unanimous to relieve the commonwealth, and that the Earl of Strafford was condemned to die, other of his evil counsellors impeached and imprisoned; to show there wanted not evil counsel within himself sufficient to begin a war upon his subjects, though no way by them provoked, he sends an agent with letters to the King of Denmark, requiring aid against the parliament: and that aid was coming, when Divine Providence, to divert them, sent a sudden torrent of Swedes into the bowels of Denmark. (6) He then endeavours to bring up both armies, first the Eng

(66) The Marquis of Montrose went for Charles II. both into Sweden and Denmark, to solicit men, money, and arms against

lish, with whom eight thousand Irish papists, raised by Strafford, and a French army were to join ; then the Scots at Newcastle, whom he thought to have encouraged by telling them what money and horse he was to have from Denmark.

159. I mention not the Irish conspiracy till due place. These and many others were his counsels toward a civil war. His preparations, after those two armies were dismissed, could not suddenly be too open : nevertheless there were eight thousand Irish papists, which he refused to disband, though entreated by both houses, first for reasons best known to himself, next under pretence of lending them to the Spaniard ; and so kept them undisbanded till very near the month wherein that rebellion broke forth. He was also raising forces in London, pretendedly to serve the Portugal, but with intent to seize the Tower; into which divers cannoniers were by him sent with many fireworks and grenadoes; and many great battering pieces were mounted against the city. The court was fortified with ammunition, and soldiers new listed, who followed the king from London, and appeared at Kingston, some hundreds of horse, in a warlike manner, with waggons of ammunition after them; the queen in Holland was buying more; of which the parliament had certain knowledge, and had not yet so much as demanded the militia to be settled, till they knew both of her going over sea, and to

his country ; but, after being for some time wheedled with specious promises, found that words were all he was likely to obtain.-(Clarendon, vi. 409, 410.)

what intent. For she had packed up the crown jewels (67) to have been going long before, had not the parliament, suspecting by the discoveries at Burrowbridge what was intended with the jewels, used means to stay her journey till the winter. Hull and the magazine there had been secretly attempted under the king's hand; from whom

(67) Clarendon, who relates with great reluctance whatever redounds to the credit of the parliament, admits that they were very successful in obtaining information of the king's designs, which, in many cases, they could have obtained only through the treachery of the cavaliers. “Indeed their informations were wonderful particular, from all parts beyond sea, of whatsoever was agitated on the king's behalf; as well as from his court, of whatsoever was designed, or almost but thought of to himself.” (History, iii. 45.) Who, upon reading this, can fail to remember those remarkable lines of Shakspeare:

“The providence that's in a watchful state

Knows almost every grain of Pluto's gold;
Finds bottom in th' uncomprehensive deep;
Keeps pace with thought; and almost like the gods,
Does even our thoughts unveil in their dumb cradles !"

In this way the Parliament learned to apprehend the pawning of the crown jewels in Holland, and issued an order declaring that “whosoever had been, or should be an actor in the selling or pawning of any jewels of the crown; or had, or should pay, lend, send, or bring any money in specie into this kingdom, for or upon any of those jewels; or whosoever had or should accept of any bill from beyond the seas, for the payment of any sum of money, for or upon any of those jewels, &c. should be held and accounted as an enemy of the state, &c.” (History, iii. 45, 46.) The king's own jewels also got into circulation; and D’Israeli has discovered in the MS. correspondence of Warburton, a letter to Dr. Birch, containing a curious conjectural history of one of the royal seals. After premising that Herbert, an attendant on Charles I., mentions a diamond seal with the king's arms engraved on it, he quotes the following letter from Warburton to Birch :—“If you have read Herbert's account of the last days of Charles the

(though in his declarations renouncing all thought of war) notes were sent oversea for the supply of arms; which were no sooner come, but the inhabitants of Yorkshire and other counties were called to arms, and actual forces raised, while the parliament were yet petitioning in peace, and had not one man listed.

First's life, you must remember he tells a story of a diamond seal, with the arms of England cut into it. This King Charles ordered to be given, I think, to the prince. I suppose you don't know what became of this seal, but would be surprised to find it afterwards in the court of Persia. Yet there Tavernier certainly carried it, and offered it for sale, as I certainly collect from these words of vol. i. p. 541 :—Me souvenant de ce qui etait arrive au Chevalier de Reville,' &c. He tells us he told the prime minister what was engraved on the diamond was the arms of a prince of Europe ; but, says he, I would not be more particular, remembering the case of Reville. Reville's case was this :-he came to seek employment under the Sophy, who asked him

where he had served! ?' he said, “In England, under Charles I., and that he was a captain in his guards.' "Why did you leave his service ?' 'He was murdered by cruel rebels. “And how had you the impudence,' says the Sophy, to survive him ?' And so disgraced him. Now Tavernier was afraid if he had said the arms of England had been on the seal, that they would have occasioned an inquiry into the old story. You will ask how Tavernier got this seal ? I suppose, that the prince, in his necessities, sold it to Tavernier, who was at Paris when the English court was there. What made me recollect Herbert's account, on reading this, was the singularity of an impress cut on the diamond, which Tavernier represents as a most extraordinary rarity. Charles I. was a great virtuoso, and delighted particularly in sculpture and painting.” (Curiosities of Literature, iii. 375, 376.) Engraved diamonds have always been rare ; but Anselmus Boetius (Gemmarum et Lapidum Historia, p. 129) mentions several stones of this kind, some sculptured with cabalistical characters.—(See also Goguet, Origine des Loir, t. iii. p. 225, sqq.)

« AnteriorContinuar »