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of our Saviour's passion, being appointed by the church for that day, he gave the bishop thanks for his seasonable choice of the lesson; but the bishop acquainting him that it was the service of the day, it comforted him exceedingly, and then he proceeded to receive the holy sacrament. His devotions being ended, he was brought from St. James's to Whitehall, by a regiment of foot, part before, and part behind, with a private guard of partisans about him, the Bishop of London on the one hand, and Colonel Tomlinson, who had the charge of him, on the other, bareheaded. The guards marched at a slow pace, the king bade them go faster, saying, that he now went before them to strive for a heavenly crown, with less solicitude than he had often encouraged his soldiers to fight for an earthly diadem. Being come to the end of the park, he went up the stairs leading to the long gallery in Whitehall, where formerly he used to lodge, and there finding an unexpected delay, the scaffold being not ready, he past most of the time in prayer. About twelve o'clock (his Majesty refusing to dine, only ate a bit of bread and drank a glass of claret) Colonel Hacker, with other officers and soldiers, brought the king, with the bishop, and Colonel Tomlinson, through the banqueting-house, to the scaffold, a passage being made through a window. There might have been nothing mysterious in the delay: if there was, it may perhaps be explained from the following circumstance. Four days had now elapsed since the arrival of ambassadors from the Hague to intercede in his favour. It was only on the preceding evening that they had obtained audiences of the two houses, and hitherto no answer had been returned. In their company came Seymour, the bearer of two letters from the prince of Wales, one addressed to the king, the other to Lord Fairfax. He had already delivered the letter, and with it a sheet of blank paper subscribed with the name and sealed with the arms of the prince. It was the price which he offered to the grandees of the army for the life of his father. Let them fill it up with the conditions: whatever they might be, they were already granted: his seal and signature were affixed. It is not improbable that this offer may have induced the leaders to pause. That Fairfax laboured to postpone the execution, was always asserted by his friends; and we have evidence to prove that, though he was at Whitehall, he knew not, or at least pretended not to know, what was passing.
In the mean while Charles enjoyed the consolation of learning that his son had not forgotten him in his distress. By the indulgence of Colonel Tomlinson, Seymour was admitted, delivered the letter, and received the royal instructions for the prince. He was hardly gone, when Hacker arrived with the fatal summons. About two o'clock the king proceeded through the long gallery, lined on each side with soldiers, who, far from insulting the fallen monarch, appeared by their sorrowful looks to sympathise with his fate. At the end an aperture had been made in the wall, through which he stepped at once upon the scaffold. It was hung with black at the further end were seen the two executioners, the block, and the axe; below appeared in arms several regiments of horse and foot; and beyond, as far as the eye was permitted to reach, waved a dense and countless crowd of spectators. The king stood collected and undismayed amidst the apparatus of death. There was in his countenance that cheerful intrepidity, in his demeanour that dignified calmness, which had characterised, in the hall of Fortheringay, his royal grandmother, Mary Stuart. A strong guard of several
regiments of horse and foot, were planted on all sides, which hindered the near approach of the people, and the king being upon the scaffold, chiefly directed his speech to the bishop and Colonel Tomlinson, to this purpose:
I shall be very little heard of any body else; I shall therefore speak a word to you here: Indeed, I could have held my peace well, if I did not think that holding my peace would make some men think that I did submit to the guilt, as well as the punishment; but I think it is my duty to God first, and then to my country, to clear myself, both as an honest man, a good king, and a good Christian. I shall begin first with my innocency, and, in troth, I think it not very needful to insist long upon this; for all the world knows, that I did never begin a war with the two houses of parliament, and I call God to witness, unto whom I must shortly make an account, that I did never intend to encroach upon their privileges; they began upon me. It is the militia they began upon; they confessed the militia was mine, but they thought fit to have it from me: And, to be short, if any body will look to the dates of commission, of their commissions and mine, and likewise to the declaration, he will see clearly, that they began these troubles, and not I. So as for the guilt of these enormous crimies that are laid against me, I hope that God will clear me. I will not, for I am in charity, and God forbid I should lay it upon the two houses of parliament, there is no necessity for either I hope they are free of this guilt; but I believe, that ill instruments between them and me, have been the cause of all this bloodshed; so that as I find myself clear of this, I hope, and pray God, that they may too: Yet, for all this, God forbid I should be so ill a Christian, as not to say God's judgments are just upon me. Many times he doth pay justice by an unjust sentence-that is ordinary, I will say this, that an unjust sentence that I suffered to take effect, is punished by an unjust sentence upon me: So far I have said, to shew you, that I am an innocent man.
Now, to show that I am a good Christian, I hope there is a good man [pointing to the bishop] that will bear me witness, that I have forgiven all the world, and even those in particular that have been the cause of my death; who they are, God knows; I do not desire to know: I pray God forgive them. But this is not all, my charity must go farther; I wish that they may repent. Indeed, they have committed a great sin in that particular. 1 pray God, with St. Stephen, that it be not laid to their charge; and withal, that they may take the way to the peace of the kingdom; for my charity commands me not only to forgive particular men, but endeavour to the last gasp, the peace of the kingdom. So, Sirs, I do wish with all my soul (I see there are some here that will carry it farther) the peace of the kingdom. Sirs, I must show you how you are out of the way, and put you in the way. First, You are out of the way; for certainly all the ways you ever had yet, as far as ever I could find by any thing, are wrong. If in the way of conquest, certainly this is an ill way; for conquest, in my opinion, is never just, except there be a good and just cause, either for matter or wrong, or a just title; and then if you go beyond the first quarrel, that makes that unjust at the end that was just at first; for if there be only matter of conquest, then it is a robbery, as a pirate said to Alexander, that he was a great robber, himself was but a petty robber. And so, Sirs, I think for the way that you are in, you are much out of the way. Now, Sirs,
to put you in the way, believe it, you shall never go right, nor God will never prosper you, until you give God his due, the king his due (that is my successor) and the people their due: I am as much for them as any of you. You must give God his due, by regulating the church (according to the Scripture) which is now out of order; and to set you in a way particularly now, I cannot; but only this, a national synod freely called, freely debating among themselves, must settle this, when every opinion is freely heard. For the king (then turning to a gentleman that touched the axe, he said, hurt not the axe that may hurt me). Indeed, I will not-the laws of the land will clearly instruct you for that; therefore, because it concerns my own particular, I give you a touch of it. For the people, truly I desire their liberty and freedom as much as any body whosoever; but I must tell you, that their liberty and freedom consists in having government under those laws, by which their lives and their goods may be most their own. It is not in having a share in the government, that is nothing appertaining to them: A subject and a sovereign are clear differing things, and therefore, until you do that, I mean, that you put the people into that liberty, as I say, they will never enjoy themselves.
Sirs, it was for this that now I am come hither, for if I would have given way to an arbitrary course, to have all laws changed, according to the power of the sword, I need not to have come here; and therefore I tell you, (and I pray God it be not laid to your charge) that I am the martyr of the people. In troth, Sirs, I shall not hold you any longer : I will only say this to you, that I could have desired a little time longer, because I would have a little better digested this I have said, and therefore I hope you will excuse me; I have delivered my conscience, I pray God you take those courses that are the best for the good of the kingdom and your own salvation.
Bishop. Though your Majesty's affections may be very well known as to religion; yet it may be expected that you should say something thereof for the world's satisfaction.
King. I thank you heartily, my Lord, for I had almost forgotten it. In troth, Sirs, my conscience in religion, I think, is very well known to all the world, and therefore I declare before you all, that I die a Christian, according to the profession of the Church of England, as I found it left me by my father; and this honest man, I think, will witness it.
Then turning to the officers, he said, Sirs, excuse me for this same : I have a good cause, and I have a gracious God, I will say no more. Then to Colonel Hacker, he said, take care that they do not put me to pain.
A gentleman coming near the axe, the king said, take heed of the axe, pray take heed of the axe.
Then speaking to the executioner, he said, I shall say but very short prayers, and when I thrust out my hands, let that be your sign.
He then called to the bishop for his night-cap, and having put it on, he said to the executioner, does my hair trouble you? who desired him to put it all under his cap, which the king did accordingly, with the help of the executioner, and the bishop. Then turning to the executioner, he said, I have a good cause and a righteous God on my side.
Bishop. There is but one stage more, this stage is turbulent and full of trouble; it is a short one; but you may consider, it will soon carry
you from earth to heaven; and there you will find a great deal of cordial joy and happiness.
King. I go from a corruptible to an incorruptible crown, where no disturbance can be, no disturbance in the world.
Bishop.-You are exchanged from a temporary to an eternal crown— a good exchange.
Then the king said, is my hair well? and took off his cloak and his George, giving his George to the bishop, saying, "remember." Then he put off his doublet, and being in his waistcoat, he put on his cloak again; then looked upon the block, he said to the executioner, you must set it fast.
King. When I put out my hands this way (stretching them out) then do you work. After that, having said two or three words to himself, as he stood with hands lift up to heaven, immediately stooping down, he laid his neck upon the block; and then the executioner again putting his hair under his cap, the king, thinking he had been going to strike, said, stay for the sign.
Executioner. Yes, I will, an't please your majesty.
Then, after a little pause, the king stretching forth his hands, the executioner, at one blow, severed his head from his body.
After the stroke was given, the body was presently coffined, and covered with a velvet pall, immediately upon which, the bishop, and Mr. Herbert, went with it to the back stairs to have it embalmed. After embalming, his head was sewed on by two surgeons. This done, the royal corpse was wrapt up in lead, covered with a velvet pall, and then was removed to St. James's. The girdle, or circumscription of capital letters, of lead, put about the king's coffin, had only these words, KING CHARLES, 1648.
An extraordinary circumstance attended the deathbed of CHARLES II. ; the king, who, at least to all outward appearance had previously been a Protestant, declared, when conscious of approaching dissolution, his adhesion to the Church of Rome, and confessed to and received the sacrament from a catholic priest. Most historians agree in this being the fact, but as the catholic writers are of course more inclined to give the matter at length, we borrow the following full details from one of them:
On the 2nd of February, 1684, the King was seized with a violent fit of apoplexy, just as he came out of his closet, where he had been for some time before he was dressed. The Duke of York was immediately advertised of it; but before he could get to his majesty's bedchamber, one Dr. King, being in the withdrawing-room, was called in, and had let him blood; and then, by application and remedies usual on such occasions, (which was done by his own physicians,) he came perfectly again to his senses, so that next morning there were great hopes of his recovery; but on the fourth day, he grew so much worse that all these hopes vanished, and the doctors declared they absolutely despaired of his life, which made it high time to think of preparing for the other world. Accordingly two bishops came to do their function; who, reading the prayers appointed in the Common Prayer Book, on that occasion, when they came to the place where usually they exhort the sick person to make a confession of his sins, the Bishop of Bath and Wells, who was one of them, advertized him it was not of obligation; so, after a short exhortation, asked him if he were sorry for his sins?
which the king saying be was, the bishop pronounced absolution; and then asked him if he pleased to receive the sacrament? to which he added no reply; and being pressed by the bishop several times, gave no other answers, but that it was time enough, or that he would think of it. The duke, who stood all this time by his Majesty's bed-side, and seeing that notwithstanding the bishop's solicitation, he would not receive the communion from them, and knowing the king's sentiments in the matters of religion, concerning which he had lately had frequent conferences with him, thought it a fit opportunity to remind him of it; and therefore, desiring the company to stand a little from the bed, said, he was overjoyed to find his Majesty in the same mind he was when he spoke lately to him in his closet about religion, at which time he pleased to show him a paper he had writ himself of controversy, and therefore asked him if he desired he should send for a priest to him? to which the King immediately replied, "For God's sake, brother, do; and please to lose no time." But then reflecting on the consequence, added, "but will you not expose yourself too much by doing it?"
The duke, who never thought of danger when the king's service called, though but in a temporal concern, much less in an eternal one, answered, "Sir, though it cost me my life, I will bring one to you;" and immediately going into the next room, and seeing never a Catholic he could send but the Count de Castel Machlor, he dispatched him on that errand; and though other priests were sent for, yet it fortuned none could be got but Father Huddlestone, Benedictine monk, who had been so assistant to his Majesty in making his escape after the battle of Worcester; who, being brought up a pair of back stairs into a private closet, the duke advertised the king where he was, who thereupon ordered all the people to withdraw except the Duke; but his Royal Highness thought fit that my Lord of Bath, who was lord of the bed-chamber then in waiting, and my Lord Feversham, the captain of his guards, should remain in the room, telling the king it was not fit he should be quite alone with his Majesty, considering the weak condition he was then in; and, as soon as the room was cleared, accordingly called Mr. Huddleston in, whom his majesty received with great joy and satisfaction, telling him he desired to die in the faith and communion of the Catholic church; that he was most heartily sorry for the sins of his past life, and particularly for having deferred his conversion so long; that he hoped, nevertheless, in the merits of Christ, that he was in charity with all the world, pardoned his enemies, and begged pardon of those he had any ways offended; and that if it pleased God he recovered, was resolved, by his assistance, to amend his life. Then he proceeded to make a confession of his whole life, with exceeding tenderness of heart, and pronounced an act of contrition with great piety and compunction. In this he spent about an hour; and, having desired to receive all the succours fit for a dying man, he continued making pious ejaculations, and, frequently lifting his hands, cried, "Mercy, sweet Jesus, mercy!" 'till the priest was ready to give him Extreme Unction; and the sacrament being come by the time this was ended, he asked his majesty if he desired to receive it? who answered, he did most earnestly, if he thought him worthy of it. Accordingly the priest, after some further preparations, going about to give it him, he raised himself up, and said, "let me meet my heavenly Lord in a better posture than lying on my bed;" but being desired not to discompose himself, he repeated the act of contrition, and then re