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proved against him in twenty-eight articles, he was condemned of high treason by the parliament.
39. The commons by far the greater number cast him: the lords, after they had been satisfied in a full discourse by the king's solicitor, and the opinions of many judges delivered in their house, agreed likewise to the sentence of treason. The people universally cried out for justice. None were his friends but courtiers and clergymen, the worst, at that time, and most corrupted sort of men ; and court ladies, not the best of women; who, when they grow to that insolence as to appear active in state-affairs, are the certain sign of a dissolute, degenerate, and pusillanimous commonwealth. Last of all, the king, or rather first, for these were but his apes, was not satisfied in conscience to condemn him of high treason; and declared to both houses, " that no fears or respects whatsoever should make him alter that resolution founded upon his conscience.” Either then his resolution was indeed not founded upon his conscience, or his con
Harry Vane." Upon this passage Warburton remarks :- His ambition, pride, and appetite for revenge, were all exorbitant. His parts were of the first rate, and these solely directed to the gratification of his passions. What wonder then, when men found him in the station of prime minister, they should never think themselves safe while he continued there ?” (Clarendon's History, vii. 537.) Such a character, drawn by two writers not over friendly to freedom, will prepare the reader the more readily to enter into Milton's views of Strafford. The obscure servile author of the “Vindiciæ Carolinæ," (p. 29–36,) imagines he has, by his abuse, confuted Milton, and vindicated the reputation of this ape of Sylla. The comparison is Clarendon’s. (History, 1, 456.)
science received better information, or else both his conscience and this his strong resolution struck sail, notwithstanding these glorious words, to his stronger fear; for within a few days after, when the judges, at a privy council, and four of his elected bishops had picked the thorn out of his conscience, he was at length persuaded to sign the bill for Strafford's execution. And yet, perhaps, that it wrung his conscience to condemn the earl of high treason is not unlikely; not because he thought him guiltless of highest treason, had half those crimes been committed against his own private interest or person, as appeared plainly by his charge against the six members; but because he knew himself a principal in what the earl was but his accessory, and thought nothing treason against the commonwealth, but against himself only.
40. Had he really scrupled to sentence that for treason, which he thought not treasonable, why did he seem resolved by the judges and the bishops ? and if by them resolved, how comes the scruple here again? It was not then, as he now pretends, “ the importunities of some, and the fear of many," which made him sign, but the satisfaction given him by those judges and ghostly fathers of his own choosing. Which of him shall we believe ? for he seems not one, but double ; either here we must not believe him professing that his satisfaction was but seemingly received and out of fear, or else we may as well believe that the scruple was no real scruple, as we can believe him here against himself before, that the satisfaction then received was no real satis
faction. Of such a variable and feeting conscience what hold can be taken ?
41. But that indeed it was a facile conscience, and could dissemble satisfaction when it pleased, his own ensuing actions declared ; being soon after found to have the chief hand in a most detested conspiracy against the parliament and kingdom, as by letters and examinations of Percy, Goring, and other conspirators came to light; that his intention was to rescue the Earl of Strafford, by seizing on the Tower of London; to bring up the English army out of the North, joined with eight thousand Irish papists raised by Strafford, and a French army to be landed at Portsmouth, against the parliament and their friends. For which purpose the king, though requested by both houses to disband those Irish papists, refused to do it, and kept them still in arms to his own purposes. No marvel then, if being as deeply criminous as the earl himself, it stung his conscience to adjudge to death those misdeeds, whereof himself had been the chief author : no marvel though instead of blaming and detesting his ambition, his evil counsel, bis violence, and oppression of the people, he fall to praise his great abilities; and with scholastic flourishes beneath the decency of a king, compares him to the sun, which in all figurative use and significance bears allusion to a king, not to a subject: no marvel though he knit contradictions as close as words can lie toge. ther, “not approving in his judgment,” and yet approving in his subsequent reason all that Strafford did, as “ driven by the necessity of times, and the temper of that people;" for this excuses all his misdemeanors. Lastly, no marvel that he goes on building many fair and pious conclusions upon false and wicked premises, which deceive the common reader, not well discerning the antipathy of such connexions : but this is the marvel, and may be the astonishment, of all that have a conscience, how he durst in the sight of God (and with the same words of contrition wherewith David repents the murdering of Uriah) repent his lawful compliance to that just act of not saving him, whom he ought to have delivered up to speedy punishment; though himself the guiltier of the two.
42. If the deed were so sinful, to have put to death so great a malefactor, it would have taken much doubtless from the heaviness of his sin, to have told God in his confession, how he laboured, what dark plots he had contrived, into what a league entered, and with what conspirators, against his parliament and kingdoms, to have rescued from the claim of justice so notable and so dear an instrument of tyranny; which would have been a story, no doubt, as pleasing in the ears of heaven, as all these equivocal repentances. For it was fear, and nothing else, which made him feign before both the scruple and the satisfaction of his conscience, that is to say, of his mind : his first fear pretended conscience, that he might be borne with to refuse signing; his latter fear, being more urgent, made him find a conscience both to sign and to be satisfied. As for repentance, it came not on him till a long time after; when he saw “ he could
have suffered nothing more, though he had denied that bill.” For how could he understandingly repent of letting that be treason, which the parliament and whole nation so judged? This was that which repented him, to have given up to just punishment so stout a champion of his designs, who might have been so useful to him in his following civil broils. It was a worldly repentance, not a conscientious; or else it was a strange tyranny, which his conscience had got over him, to vex him like an evil spirit for doing one act of justice, and by that means to “fortify his resolution” from ever doing so any more. That mind must needs be irrecoverably depraved, which either by chance or importunity, tasting but once of one just deed, spatters at it, and abhors the relish ever after.
43. To the Scribes and Pharisees wo was denounced by our Saviour, for straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel, though a gnat were to be strained at: but to a conscience with whom one good deed is so hard to pass down as to endanger almost a choking, and bad deeds without number, though as big and bulky as the ruin of three kingdoms, go down currently without straining, certainly a far greater wo appertains. If his conscience were come to that unnatural dyscrasy, as to digest poison and to keck at wholesome food, it was not for the parliament or any of his kingdoms, to feed with him any longer. Which to conceal he would persuade us, that the parliament also in their conscience escaped not “ some touches of remorse,” for putting Strafford to death, in forbidding it by