« PreviousContinue »
tempt caft on his name, family, and go,
upon them; and most of them under the force of ⚫ tyrannical will, and fear of ruine by displeasure thereof; fome under the force of feveral factions or titles to the crown: yet the laws made, even by such parliaments, have continued, and been received, and be'neficial to fucceeding ages. All which, and whatfoever hath been done by this parliament, fince fome of • their members deferted them, and the late King raised forces against them, and feveral diforders and affronts formerly offered to them (if this objection take place) are wholly vacated. For any breach of privilege of parliament, it will not be charged upon the remaining part, or to have been within their power of prevention or reparation; or that they have not enjoy⚫ed the freedom of their own perfons and votes, and
are, undoubtedly, by the law of parliaments, far ex⚫ceeding that number which makes a house, authorised for the dispatch of any bufinefs whatfoever: and that, which at present is called a force upon them, is fome of their best friends, called and appointed by the parliament for their fafety, and for the guard of them C against their enemies; who, by this means, being disappointed of their hopes to deftroy the parliament, would, nevertheless, fcandalize their actions, as done under a force, who, in truth, are no other than their own guards of their own army, by themfelves appointed: and, when it fell into confideration, whether the priviledge of parliament, or the safety of the kingdom, fhould be preferred, it is not hard to judge which ought to fway the ballance; and that the parliament ought to pafs by the breach of priviledge (as had been formerly often done upon much fmaller grounds) rather than, by a fullen declining their duty Declara- and truft, to refign up all to the apparent hazard of ⚫ ruin and confufion of the nation (a).—Thefe were the principal reafons at that time given for this most extraordinary action. The reader will judge of their
Gion, &c. p. 22.
vernment. To conciliate men to their proceedings,
force, and determine whether they answer the objections founded on the illegality and violence of the proceeding. It fhould be obferved, however, that the abettors of it gloried that it was performed in the eye of the world, and that an example was fet to pofterity how to act in fimilar circumftances.
There want not precedents of fome of his predeceffors, faid they, who have been depofed by parliaments, but were afterwards in darkness, and in cor· ners, bafely murthered. This parliament held it more
agreeable to honour and juftice, to give the King a "fair and open trial, by above an hundred gentlemen,
in the most publick place of justice, free (if he had so (¿) Declara~ ~ pleased) to make his defence (b). If the parlia- tion, &c. ment and military council do what they do without P. 14. precedent,' fays Milton, if it appear their duty, it argues the more wifdom, virtue and magnanimity, that they know themselves able to be a precedent to others, who, perhaps, in future ages, if they prove not too degenerate, will look up with honour, and afpire towards thefe exemplary and matchlefs deeds of their ancestors, as to the highest top of their civil glory and emulation; which, heretofore, in the purfuance of fame and foreign dominion, spent itself vain-gloriously abroad; but, henceforth, may learn a better fortitude, to dare execute higheft juftice on them that fhall, by force of arms, endeavour the oppreffing and bereaving of religion and their liberty at home; that no unbridled potentate or tyrant, but to his forrow, for the future, may prefume fuch high and irre⚫ fponfible licence over mankind, to havoc and turn upfide whole kingdoms of men, as though they were no more, in respect of his perverfe will, than a nation of pifmires (c). The time was,' faid another () Profe commonwealth advocate, when this nation was wed- i. p. 356, ded to the vanity of admiring kings, placing them in a lofty feat of impunity, like gods, that were not
ceedings, and make them fubmit to their rule, they began (11) with fair promises,
bound to give men an account of their actions, but had a liberty to thunder at pleasure, and put the world • into combustion, so that there was no love but luft, • no rule but the prince's will, which fo vaffalized the fpirits of this great and mighty people, that they were content to establish the highest piece of injuftice by fuch maxims of law, as faid, the King can do no wrong;' as if whatsoever he did could not make him a delinquent or a traitor; nor was it law only, but thofe antiquated cheats of the clergy made it pafs for divinity alfo ; fo that the commonwealth of England, for almost fix hundred years, hath been pinioned like a captive with the twofold cord of the law and the gofpel, which the corrupt profeffors have made ufe of after their own inventions. Yet, notwithstanding that this glorious idol of royalty was elevated to fuch a height over the liberties of the parliament, and fet
( upon the very pinacle of the temple, we have lived
to fee a noble generation of English hearts, that have ⚫ fetched it down with a vengeance, and cured the land (Mercu-of that idolatry, by one of the most heroic and excus, No. 56. emplary acts of juftice, that ever was done under the
• fun (d).'
I shall only add, that, in the year 1651, O. S. the 30th of January was observed, by the English merchants at Dantzick, in memorial of their deliverance from flavery, and a feaft was made for the whole company, (e) Thurloe, the expence of which was ordered to be repaid by the
vol. i. p.
commonwealth of England (e).
(11) They began with fair promifes, and expressed, at the fame time, much refolution] After it had been determined to bring the King to a trial, the house of commons acted with great fpirit and rigour. They declared, that the commons of England, in parliament affembled, be(f) Jouring chosen by, and reprefenting, the people, have the
Jan. 1648. fupreme power in the nation (ƒ). They refolved, that
and expreffed, at the fame time, much
a great feal be graven, with the addition of a map of the
up any of the late King's children, or any other per'fon to be King of England and Ireland; and that whofoever fhould be convicted of the faid offence, fhould be deemed and adjudged a traitor against the parlia (b) Scobel's 'ment and people of England (b).' And, that no collection, hopes might be given of the reftoration of monarchy, March, care was taken to demolish its great fupport the house 1648. of peers, which was declared to be ufelefs and dan
gerous to the people of England:' and it was enacted, That the lords fhould not from thenceforth meet or fit in the house called the lords houfe, or in any other house or place whatfoever, as a houfe of lords; nor 'fhould fit, vote, advife, adjudge or determine of any ⚫ matter or thing whatfoever, as a houfe of lords, in parliament (i). They, moreover, pulled down the (i) Id. ib. ftatues of Charles at St. Paul's and in the Royal Exchange, and put in the nich of the latter, Exit Tyrannus regum ultimus: imitating the Syracufians, who, at the invitation of Timoleon, overturned the palaces and mo
numents, and whatever elfe might preferve the me-n Timomory of former tyrants (k).'These were very jeon.
words: for, 'tis very certain, great things
bold and high acts, and fuch as needed an apology to