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Nor that of quinces, nor of marjoram,
PROSE WRITERS :–CHARLES I.
Most of the prose that was written and published in England in the middle portion of the seventeeth century, or the twenty years preceding the Restoration, was political and theological, but very little of it has any claim to be considered as belonging to the national literature. A torrent of pamphlets and ephemeral polemics supplied the ravenous public appetite with a mental sustenance which answered the wants of the moment, much as the bakers' ovens did with daily bread for the body. It was all devoured, and meant to be devoured, as fast as it was produced—devoured in the sense of being quite used up and consumed, so far as any good was to be got out of it. It was in no respect intended for posterity, any more than the linen and broad-cloth then manufactured were intended for posterity. Still even this busy and excited time produced some literary performances which still retain more or less of interest. The writings attributed to Charles I. were first collected and published at the Hague soon after his death, in a folio volume without date, under the title of “Reliquiae Sacrae Carolinae,’ and twice afterwards in England, namely, in 1660 and 1687, with the title of ‘BAxIAIKA: The Works of King Charles the Martyr.” If we except a number of speeches to the parliament, letters, dispatches, and other political papers, the contents of this collection are all theological, consisting of prayers, arguments, and disquisitions on the controvery about church government, and the famous “Eikon Basiliké, or, The Portraiture of his sacred Majesty in his Solitude and Sufferings; which, having been printed under the care of Dr. Gauden (after the Restoration successively Bishop of Exeter and Worcester), had been first published by itself immediately after the king's execution. It is now generally admitted that the Eikon was really written by Gauden, who, after the Restoration, openly claimed it as his own. Mr. Hallam, however, although he has no doubt of Gauden being the author, admits that it is, ne vertheless, superior to his acknowledged writings. “A strain of majestic melancholy,” he observes, “is well kept up; but the personated sovereign is rather too theatrical for real nature; the language is too rhetorical and amplified, the periods too artificially elaborated. None but scholars and practised writers employ such a style as this.” It is not improbable that the work may have been submitted to Charles's revisal, and that it may have received both his approval and his corrections. Charles, indeed, was more in the habit of correcting what had been written by others than of writing anything himself. “Though he was of as slow a pen as of speech,” says Sir Philip Warwick, “yet both were very significant; and he had that modest esteem of his own parts, that he would usually say, he would willingly make his own dispatches, but that he found it better to be a cobbler than a shoemaker. I have been in company with very learned men, when I have brought them their own papers back from him with his alterations, who ever confessed his amendments to have been very material. And I once, by his commandment, brought him a paper of my own to read, to see whether it was suitable to his directions, and he disallowed it slightingly: I desired him I might call Dr. Sanderson to aid me, and that the doctor might understand his own meaning from himself; and, with his majesty's leave, I brought him whilst he was walking and taking the air; whereupon we two went back ; but pleased him as little when we returned it: for, smilingly, he said, a man might have as good ware out of a chandler's shop; but afterwards he set it down with his own pen very plainly, and suitably to his own inten* Lit, of Eur, iii. 662.
tions.” The most important of the literary productions which are admitted to be wholly Charles's own, are his papers in the controversy which he carried on at Newcastle in June and July, 1646, with Alexander Henderson, the Scotch clergyman, on the question between episcopacy and presbytery, and those on the same subject in his controversy with the parliamentary divines at Newport, in October, 1648. These papers show considerable clearness of thinking and logical or argumentative talent; but it cannot be said that they are written with any remarkable force or elegance. It is not easy to understand the meaning of Horace Walpole's judgment on Charles's style, that “it was formed between a certain portion of sense, adversity, dignity, and perhaps a little insincerity.” What he says of a copy of verses said to have been written by his majesty during his confinement in Carisbrook Castle, is more to the purpose: “The poetry is most uncouth and inharmonious; but there are strong thoughts in it, some good sense, and a strain of majestic piety.” Though not very polished, indeed, or very like the production of a practised versifier, which goes so far to furnish a presumption of its authenticity, this composition, which is entitled ‘Majesty in Misery, or an Imploration to the King of Kings,’ indicates poetic feeling, and an evident familiarity with the highest models. Here are a few of its more striking Verses: Nature and law, by thy divine decree
The only sort of righteous royalty,
* Royal and Noble Authors.
The fiercest furies, that do daily tread
The Church of England doth all faction foster,
The corner-stone’s misplaced by every paviour;
MILTON's PROSE works.
We have already mentioned Bishop Hall, both as a poet and as a writer of prose, in the end of the preceding and the earlier part of the present century. A part which Hall took in his old age in the grand controversy of the time brought him into collision with one, with whose name in after ages the world was to resound. John Milton, then in his thirty-third year, and recently returned from his travels in France and Italy, had already, in 1641, lent the aid of his pen to the war of the Puritans against the established church by the publication of his treatise entitled “Of Reformation,’ in Two Books. The same year Hall published his “ Humble Remonstrance’ in favour of Episcopacy; which immediately called forth an ‘Answer by Smectymnuus,’—a word formed from the initial letters of the names of five Puritan ministers by whom the tract was written—Stephen Mar