« AnteriorContinuar »
who were then best fathers of the commonwealth. And both the parliament and people complained, and demanded justice for those assaults, if not murders, done at his own doors by that crew of rufflers; but he, instead of doing justice on them, justified and abetted them in what they did, as in his public answer to a petition from the city may be read. Neither is it slightly to be passed over, that in the very place where blood was first drawn in this cause, at the beginning of all that followed, there was his own blood shed by the executioner: according to that sentence of divine justice,“ in the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.”
70. From hence he takes occasion to excuse that improvident and fatal error of his absenting from the parliament. “When he found that no declaration of the bishops could take place against those tumults.” Was that worth his considering, that foolish and self-undoing declaration of twelve cipher bishops, (to) who were immediately ap
(40) Clarendon, how adverse soever to the Parliament, cannot forbear condemning the conduct of the twelve bishops, who, he says, were urged forward in their foolish career by Archbishop Williams. He is careful, indeed, to add that, by the sending of these refractory prelates to the Tower, “the reverence and veneration that formerly had been entertained for parliaments” were greatly lessened ; all the while admitting “ the indiscretion of those bishops, swayed by the pride and passion of that arch. bishop, in applying that remedy at a time when they saw all forms and rules of judgment impetuously declined, and the power of their adversaries so great, that the laws themselves submitted to their oppression ; that they should, in such a storm, when the best pilot was at his prayers, and the card and compass lost,
peached of treason for that audacious declaring ? The bishops peradventure were now and then pulled by the rochets, and deserved another kind of pulling; but what amounted this to “the fear of his own person in the streets ?” Did he not the very next day after his irruption into the House of Commons, than which nothing had more exasperated the people, go in his coach unguarded into the city? Did he receive the least affront, much less violence, in any of the streets, but rather humble demeanors and supplications ? Hence may be gathered, that however in his own guiltiness he might have justly feared, yet that he knew the people so full of awe and reverence to his person, as to dare commit himself single among the thickest of them, at a time when he had most provoked them.
71. Besides, in Scotland they had handled the bishops in a more robustious manner: Edinburgh had been full of tumults; two armies from thence had entered England against him: yet after all this he was not fearful, but very forward to take so long a journey to Edinburgh ; which argues first,
without the advice of one mariner, put themselves in such a cockboat, and to be severed from the good ship, gave that scandal and offence to all those who passionately desired to preserve their function, that they had no compassion, or regard of their persons, or what became of them ; insomuch as in the whole debate in the House of Commons, there was only one gentleman who spoke on their behalf, and said he did not believe they were guilty of high treason, but that they were stark mad; and therefore desired they might be sent to Bedlam.""-(History, &c. ii. 120, 121.)
as did also his rendition afterward to the Scots army, that to England he continued still, as he was indeed, a stranger, and full of diffidence; to the Scots only a native king, in his confidence, though not in his dealing towards them. It shows us next beyond doubting, that all this his fear of tumults was but a mere colour and occasion taken of his resolved absence from the parliament, for some end not difficult to be guessed. And those instances wherein valour is not to be questioned for not“ scuffling with the sea, or an undisciplined rabble,” are but subservient to carry on the solemn jest of his fearing tumults; if they discover not withal the true reason why he departed, only to turn bis slashing at the court-gate to slaughtering in the field; his disorderly bickering to an orderly invading; which was nothing else but a more orderly disorder.
72. “ Some suspected and affirmed, that he meditated a war when he went first from Whitehall.” And they were not the worst heads that did so, nor did any of his former acts weaken him to that, as he alleges for himself; or if they had, they clear him only for the time of passing them, not for whatever thoughts might come after into his mind. Former actions of improvidence or fear, not with bim unusual, cannot absolve him of all after meditations. He goes on protesting his “ no intention to have left Whitehall,” had these horrid tumults given him but fair quarter; as if he himself, his wife, and children had been in peril. But to this enough hath been answered. “Had this parliament, as it was in its first election," namely, with the lord and baron bishops, “ sat full and free,” he doubts not but all had gone well. What warrant this of his to us, whose not doubting was all good men's greatest doubt?“He was resolved to hear reason, and to consent so far as he could comprehend.” A hopeful resolution: what if his reason were found by oft experience to comprehend nothing beyond his own advantages; was this a reason fit to be intrusted with the common good of three nations? “But,” saith he, “ as swine are to gardens, so are tumults to parliaments.” This the parliament, had they found it so, could best have told us. In the meanwhile, who knows not that one great hog may do as much mischief in a garden as many little swine ?
73. “He was sometimes prone to think, that had he called this last parliament to any other place in England, the sad consequences might have been prevented.” But change of air changes not the mind. Was not his first parliament at Oxford dissolved after two subsidies given him, and no justice received ? Was not his last in the same place, where they sat with as much freedom, as much quiet from tumults, as they could desire; a parliament, both in his account and their own, consisting of all his friends, that fled after him, and suffered for him, and yet by bim nicknamed and cashiered for a “mongrel parliament, that vexed his queen with their base and mutinous motions," as his cabinet-letter tells us ? Whereby the world may see plainly, that no shifting of place, no sifting of members to his own mind, no number, no paucity, no freedom from tumults, could ever bring his arbitrary wilfulness, and tyrannical designs, to brook the least shape or similitude, the least counterfeit of a parliament. Finally, instead of praying for his people as a good king should do, he prays to be delivered from them, as “ from wild beasts, inundations, and raging seas, that had overborne all loyalty, modesty, laws, justice, and religion.” God save the people from such intercessors !
Upon the Bill for Triennial Parliaments, and for
settling this, gc,
74. The bill for a triennial parliament was but the third part of one good step toward that which in times past was our annual right. The other bill for settling this parliament was new indeed, but at that time very necessary; and in the king's own words no more than what the world “was fully confirmed he might in justice, reason, honour, and conscience grant them;" for to that end he affirms to have done it.
75, But whereas he attributes the passing of them to his own act of grace and willingness, (as his manner is to make virtues of his necessities,) and