Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

one nation with an untruth so remarkable, and presumes a more implicit faith in the people of England, than the pope ever commanded from the Romish laity, or else a natural sottishness, fit to be abused and ridden; while in the judgment of wise men, by laying the foundation of his defence on the avouchment of that which is so manifestly untrue, he hath given a worse foil to his own cause, than when his whole forces were at any time overthrown. They therefore, who think such great service done to the king's affairs in publishing this book, will find themselves in the end mistaken, if sense and right mind, or but any mediocrity of knowledge and remembrance hath not quite forsaken men.

But to prove his inclination to parliaments, he affirms here, “to have always thought the right way of them most safe for his crown, and best pleasing to his people.' What he thought, we know not; but that he ever took the contrary way, we saw; and from his own actions we felt long ago what he thought of parliaments or of pleasing his people; a surer evidence than what we hear now too late in words.

He alleges, that the cause of forbearing to convene parliaments was the sparks which some men's distempers there studied to kindle. They were indeed not tempered to his temper; for it neither was the law, nor ihe rule by which all other tempers were to be tried; but they were esteemed and chosen for the fittest men, in their several counties, to allay and quench those distempers which his own inordinate doings had inflamed. And if that were his refusing to convene, till those men had been qualified to his temper, that is to say, his will, we may easily conjecture what hope there was of parliaments, had not fear and his insatiate poverty, in the midst of his excessive wealth, constrained him.

6

6

• He hoped by his freedom and their moderation to prevent misunderstandings. And wherefore not by their freedom and his moderation ? But freedom he thought too high a word for them, and moderation too mean a word for himself; this was not the way to prevent misunderstandings. He still · feared passion and prejudice in other men,' not in himself; and doubted not by the weight of his own reason to counterpoise any faction, it being so easy for him, and so frequent, to call his obstinacy reason, and other men's reason, faction. We in the mean while must believe, that wisdom and all reason came to him by title with his crown; passion, prejudice, and faction came to others by being subjects.

· He was sorry to hear with what popular heat elections were carried in many places.' Sorry rather that court letters and intimations prevailed no more to divert or to deter the people from their free election of those men, whom they thought best affected to religion and their country's liberty, both at that time in danger to be lost. And such men they were as by the kingdom were sent to advise him, not sent to be cavilled at, because elected, or to be entertained by him with an undervalue and misprision of their temper, judgment, or affection. In vain was a parliament thought fittest by the known laws of our nation to advise and regulate unruly kings, if they, instead of hearkening to advice, should be permitted to turn it off, and refuse it by vilifying and traducing their advisers, or by accusing of a popular heat those that lawfully elected them.

· His own and his children's interest obliged him to seek, and to preserve the love and welfare of his subjects.' Who doubts it? But the same interest, common to all kings, was never yet available to make them all seek that which was indeed best for them

selves and their posterity. All men by their own and their children's interest are obliged to honesty and justice; but how little that consideration works in private men, how much less in kings, their deeds declare best.

• He intended to oblige both friends and enemies, and to exceed their desires, did they but pretend to any modest and sober sense ;' mistaking the whole business of a parliament, which met not to receive from him obligations, but justice; nor he to expect from them their modesty, but their grave advice, uttered with freedom in the public cause. His talk of modesty in their desires of the common welfare, argues him not much to have understood what he had to grant, who misconceived so much the nature of what they had to desire. And for

sober sense,' the expression was too mean, and recoils with as much dishonor upon himself, to be a king where sober sense could possibly be so wanting in a parliament.

• The odium and offences which some men's rigor or remissness in church and state, had contracted upon his government, he resolved to have expiated with better laws and regulations. And yet the worst of misdemeanours committed by the worst of all his favorites in the height of their dominion, whether acts of rigor or remissness, he hath from time to time continued, owned, and taken upon himself by public declarations, as often as the clergy, or any other of his instruments, felt themselves overburdened with the people's hatred. And who knows not the superstitious rigor of his Sunday's chapel, and the licentious remissness of his Sunday's theatre, accompanied with that reverend statute for dominical jigs and maypoles, published in his own name, and derived from the example of his father James ? which testifies all that rigor in superstition, all that remissness in religion, to VOL. II.

17

have issued out originally from his own house, and from his own authority. Much rather then may those general miscarriages in state, his proper sphere, be imputed to no other person chiefly than to himself. And which of all those oppressive acts or impositions did he ever disclaim or disavow, till the fatal awe of this parliament hung ominously over him? Yet here he smoothly seeks to wipe off all the envy of his evil government upon his substitutes and underofficers, and promises, though much too late, what wonders he purposed to have done in the reforming of religion, a work wherein all his undertakings heretofore declare him to have had little or no judgment; neither could his breeding, or his course of life acquaint him with a thing so spiritual; which may well assure us what kind of reformation we could expect from him; either some politic form of an imposed religion, or else perpetual vexation and persecution to all those that complied not with such a form.

The like amendment he promises in state; not a step further than his reason and conscience told him was fit to be desired;' wishing he had kept within those bounds, and not suffered his own judgment to have been overborne in some things, of which things one was the earl of Strafford's execution. And what signifies all this, but that still his resolution was the same, to set up an arbitrary government of his own, and that all Britain was to be tied and chained to the conscience, judgment, and reason of one man, as if those gifts had been only his peculiar and prerog: ative, entailed upon him with his fortune to be a king? whenas doubtless no man so obstinate, or so much a tyrant but professes to be guided by that which he calls his reason and his judgment, though never so corrupted, and pretends also his conscience. In the mean while, for any parliament or the whole nation to

a

[ocr errors]

a

a

have either reason, judgment, or conscience, by this rule was altogether in vain, if it thwarted the king's will, which was easy for him to call by any other plausible name. He himself hath many times acknowledged to have no right over us but by law, and by the same law to govern us. But law in a free nation hath been ever public reason, the enacted reason of a parliament, which he denying to enact, denies to govern us by that which ought to be our law, interposing his own private reason, which to us is no law. And thus we find these fair and specious promises, made upon the experience of many hard sufferings, and his most mortified retirements, being thoroughly sifted, to contain nothing in them much different from his former practices, so cross and so averse to all his parliaments, and both the nations of this island. What fruits they could in likelihood have produced in his restorement, is obvious to any prudent foresight.

And this is the substance of his first section, till we come to the devout of it, modelled into the form of a private psalter; which they who so much admire, either for the matter or the manner, may as well admire the archbishop's late breviary, and many other as good manuals and handmaids of devotion, the lip work of every prelatical liturgist, clapped together and quilted out of scripture phrase, with as much ease, and as little need of christian diligence or judgment, as belongs to the compiling of any ordinary and saleable piece of English divinity that the shops value. But he who from such a kind of psalmistry, or any other verbal devotion, without the pledge and earnest of suitable deeds, can be persuaded of a zeal and true righteousness in the person, hath much yet

, to learn, and knows not that the deepest policy of a tyrant hath been ever to counterfeit religious. And Aristotle in his Politics hath mentioned that special

a

« AnteriorContinuar »